What is your name and role within Justin Robertson?
I am myself! Diligently trying to avoid a proper job by making things; music, art and writing from within my ‘Solitary Cyclist’ studio.
How did you start?
I studied Philosophy at University and kind of fell into music through obsession and luck. I used to spend all my grant money on records, hanging out at Eastern Bloc record shop in Manchester. When i finished my degree, i began working there, this was in the heady days of the acid house revolution, everything was so new and exciting. I started running club nights and dj-ing, at first without much of a clue about what i was doing! the same with the studio; i volunteered my services for a remix of a local guitar band called Mad Jacks, without ever having stepped into a studio in my life. But through a certain amount of chutzpa and a deep love of music, i quickly got the hang of it! I guess a passion for music drove me, it is the best job in the world; being able to share, or inflict!, your taste on people, to partake in the communion of dance! The art and writing proceeded in parallel, feeding of each other, but it wasn’t until recently that i felt the work was coherent enough to show anyone, but now i feel like the breaks are off and the focus sharper than ever.
Where are you based?
Manchester initially London lately.
Please give an example of your music writing process?
I’m not sure i have a process as such? It might start with an idea or tone and then build from there? I’m a great believer in following your instincts, so i tend to let ideas develop on their own accord. Hence a 130 ppm techno record can turn into an 80 ppm Dub record over an afternoon. Its best not to force it, when i do the results always lack that certain spark. If i’m doing something for the disco’s them i usually start with the drums, everyone responds to the rhythm at a primal level, its our collective anchor, so i try to start with that. If it’s not for dancing then who knows! probably a pleasing melody or tone?
When i’m starting an art piece, i employ a similar stream of consciousness process, though i will have a general theme for the work in mind. So with the ‘Explorer’s Chronicle’, my latest collection, i had an image of a voyage of discovery by a semi crazed botanist in mind whilst i doodled away.
What are you working on right now?
I’m showing the Explorer’s Chronicle at The Refuge in Manchester at the moment, and planning some new work for next year. I think i’m going to take the ‘Explorer’s Chronicle’ on tour a bit for the remainder of this year. Music wise i’m finishing off the third Deadstock 33s album. That’s my psychedelic tinged machine boogie project! There was a remix album of my last album “Everything is Turbulence” released earlier this year, featuring some of my favourite producers https://open.spotify.com/artist/3teOpTHuneHgQMs94PUgRe. Writing a Dystopian/utopian novel about the illusion of happiness and our cybernetic overlords, but with laughs, well some laughs.
What is your gear setup?
Mainly ‘in the box’ plus guitars and bass. I’m a big fan of working within your limitations, you can have every synth and piece of gear under the sun, but without ideas your not going to get very far. so i’m happy to use whatever is at hand and not in the repair shop!
What do you like to do outside of music and does it affect your music?
Well the art is obviously a huge part of my life, maybe on an equal footing? I’m also a voracious reader, i still study Philosophy quite a lot, and occasionally write pieces and do interviews on the subject. So i’m usually buried in some tome or other or covered in paint. Oh yes and i’m writing a novel, it’s growing and growing and i need to tame it somewhat!
How would you describe your music genre?
Lysergic Machine Frug.
Do you know any music theory?
Only in as much as, as Nietzsche puts it ‘Without Music life would be a mistake’
What are your plans for the future?
Keep making stuff until i drop down dead.
How did you get into music?
It’s hard to remember exactly, but i recall my half brother visiting every few weeks, he would bring delights from the big city, i was living in suburbia, dreaming of the bright lights, at the time. One day he popped in with a David Hockney book and a copy of the first Velvet Underground album, i was immediately taken with the vivid colours of Hockney and the wrap around shades of the Velvet Underground, i guess i thought ‘That’s just the thing for me?’
What are you listening to at the moment?
I’m always on the hunt for exotic delights for my ‘Temple of Wonders’ radio show, that’s were i get to play some of the more esoteric selections from my record collection (https://www.mixcloud.com/sohoradio/justin-robertsons-temple-of-wonders-30052017/) so at this very moment i’m digging Juana Molina, Velodrome, Riz Ortolani, Sir Victor Uwaifo, Sula Bassana and Al Lover meets Cairo Liberation front.
Who are your top 5 influences and icons?
Impossible to say! it would probably change on a daily basis but today its
Ken Campbell, Philip K Dick, Terry Riley, Geraldine Swayne and Mary Midgley
When are you playing next?
Saturday 10 June, at a beach, in Brixton, London!