Photo: Press (Richard Fearless)
More than twenty years have passed since Richard “Fearless” Maguire co-founded the genre-bending Death In Vegas. After a few years of radio silence, he has now returned with his new LP Transmission, featuring vocals by Sasha Grey. Shortly before the album’s first single Consequences Of Love, featuring a remix by Chris & Cosey, will be released on August 26 and his show at Berlin’s Atonal festival, we caught up with the prolific producer and Drone founder to talk the differences between his two projects, field recordings and Transmission. Listen to Richard Fearless’ contribution to the Groove podcast below our interview.
Your new album Transmission is the first Death In Vegas record in five years. In the meanwhile, you concentrated on your Richard Fearless project. What are the differences between the two?
It’s been really important that I put out as Richard Fearless and establish Drone. It’s quite hard for me to describe the difference in the two types of music, Death in Vegas is a role I have to slip into. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I’m happiest when I’m creating the music, it’s everything else that does my head in. It sucks the hell out of me the pressure I put on myself to push each record. After Trans-Love Energies it took me a long time to work out where I wanted to go with Death In Vegas. But releasing as Richard Fearless is quite liberating, I’ve just finished ten new Richard Fearless tracks which I’m going to reach out to some other labels for, rather than swamping Drone with my own releases.
After some consideration, you have decided to record this mix under your Richard Fearless moniker and not as Death In Vegas. How does that change the outcome and what was your general idea behind this mix?
Richard Fearless is the selector, Death in Vegas is more of a studio ‘outcome’. There’s a sense of melancholy with the mix which I think came from choosing the records post the absolute nightmare of UK leaving the the European Union, most people are just wandering around aimlessly feeling like they’ve been kicked in the stomach, so I guess I tried to channel this feeling of isolation somewhat.
Transmission features vocalist Sasha Grey on a few tracks. How did the collaboration come about and how exactly was she involved in the record?
I’d worked on a pilot for a very close friend as musical director for a musical. I was massively out of my comfort zone but really enjoyed the rehearsals stage, working with the actors on their vocal performances. I then tried to channel this into my productions I was doing for other bands. I would choose to rehearse with them as I felt I could push certain elements of their delivery that I then wanted to bring out later on in the mix stages of the record. When I was planning Transmission in my head I knew I wanted a female singer on the album and also wanted to try working with someone who was more performance based. I was then was watching an interview with Sasha Grey and she started talking about Throbbing Gristle and Chris & Cosey. I knew she followed Death in Vegas on social media and that was when the seed was sown.
Would you say that the addition of vocals to music, especially electronic music, is necessary to convey meaning which would otherwise go unnoticed by the listeners? Transmission seems to follow a certain narrative as well.
No, not at all. To me, the best performance of any singer is when they sing with conviction. They have to believe what’s coming out of their mouth, that’s why I asked Sasha to work with lyrics from her own writings. The sense of narration I feel is added by the delivery of the confessional vocals, sung, screamed, whispered.
What is to be expected of your joint live show at Atonal festival at the end of August? It has been announced as an A/V show. What does that entail?
Over the last few years I’ve been working on a photography and video exhibition. I plan to show case some of this work at Atonal.
The album heavily relies on the use of field recordings. Which tips would you give people who want to try out field recording themselves but don’t know where to start?
I would say just gather sounds that catch your attention and push it as far as you can. All day long I hear these sounds, air traffic drones, the tug boats, the sound of metal on metal from the steel factory. This ambient noise had to be part of the album as it was shaping the sounds we were making in the studio. I try and keep everything as analog as possible, for example I wanted to record some of the emergency services and maritime frequencies and at first thought about getting a scanner but in the end opted to build a VHF radio. The final effect was so much more powerful than a scanner would have been and in the end I mainly used the white noise you pick up between the different this channels, these featured on the Metal Box and Transwave. A friend of mine who uses a lot of field recordings, he has underwater mics which he leaves in the river. He once left a microphone in the nature reserve by the studio overnight then slowed it down with PaulStretch, a great program for stretching audio. It sounded incredible.
You have been very active DJing as Richeard Fearless and just recently played to gigs in Berlin on the same day under the two different guises. Apart from your Death In Vegas live shows, where can we see you behind the decks in the next weeks and what else do you have in store for us this year?
Yes the Berlin gigs were somewhat exceptional. I was playing Panorama Bar and got asked to play a fundraiser for the Golden Pudel at ://about:blank the night before, Berghain were super cool for all the right reasons so I played a dub set for the Pudel as Death in Vegas. But yes since I’ve been doing the label I’ve started to DJ out more which is something I really love. As far as moving forwards I plan to exhibit my art show next year and have some amazing music lined up for Drone which will push the label in more than one direction. Apart from that I’m going to keep releasing music as Richard Fearless and get cracking on the next Death in Vegas album.
Stream: Richard Fearless – Groove Podcast 68
01. Loops Of Your Heart And Never Ending Nights – Neukölln (Magazine)
02. Eszaid – Amber Flashing Light (Collapsing Market)
03. Diffuse Arc – Conocimiento (Caustica)
04. Pierre LX – Index 1 (Initial Cuts)
05. Trus’Me – Defunct (Truss Remix) (Prime Numbers)
06. Locust – William Klopper Dance (R&S)
07. Phillus – PH (Sähkö Recordings)
08. Steffano Rocchi – Nero (Blackwater)
09. Och – First Contact (Kelovolt Remix) (Dreiklang)
10. Ø – Röntgen (Sähkö Recordings)
11. Nebula Variation – Future/Past (Applied Rhythmic Technology)
12. Tommy Vicarri Jr. – Sheffield (Discours)
13. Pellarin – Montpellier Dub (International Sun Earth Explorer)