INTERVIEW: Al Lover | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Al Lover is an expert at making the type of music that makes you stand up and take notice. The American producer creates a heady fusion of hip hop-inflected beats and tropes with the fuzziness of garage rock and a good smattering of psychedelic melodies and soundscapes. Well known for performing at psych festivals around the world, Al is making his way to Stockton for the first time to air tracks from his latest release Cave Ritual and show off more of his genre-defying work.

Ahead of his gig at The Green Room next week, we talked to Al about his latest EP, remixing Goat, and how he first met garage-rock wonder Girl Sweat.

Before the release of Cave Ritual, you described it as being a bit more experimental than your usual recordings. How do you think Cave Ritual is different to your previous work and why did you go a bit more experimental?

It was experimental to me in terms of the aspect of minimalism I was going for. Also the use of the old rhythm box drum sounds I was exploring. For me that was a new step because I’m used to using sampled break beats.

Cave Ritual begins with a 20 minute long piece, Genesis Porridge. Why did you decide to put the track at the beginning of the album, when the rest of the tracks are all about three or four minutes long?

I thought it would be kind of a filter thing. See who would have the patience to get through it to the rest of the album. It’s pretty daunting. I wonder how many times that side gets skipped haha.

Did you ever worry that starting Cave Ritual with Genesis Porridge would put some people off listening to the record as a whole?

Oh yeah. I wouldn’t say worry, but I was aware. It was on purpose.

When you released your album Sacred Drugs, you said that you wanted to write something that people could zone out to – what did you want to achieve with Cave Ritual?

It was more an exercise in trying something new. All the samples were from one record. An old soundtrack that will remain unsaid haha! I just wanted to make something different from what I was used to doing. I want all my projects to sound different from the last.

“I love rap, but I could care less about having raps on my beats unless it was someone really dope”

Your music encapsulates so many different genres – dub, garage, psych, hip hop, more – that it’s almost impossible to describe with just one genre label. Have you ever thought about how you’d describe your music? If so, what did you come up with?

It’s hard to say. I’ve always set out to make something different from what’s already been done, so I guess in that respect I’ve succeeded to a degree. I don’t know what to call it though. It’s just beats to me.

When you’re not producing your own music, what are you listening to? What inspires you?

Right now, lots of 70s dub and post punk, no wave and mutant disco stuff. Also a lot of late 50s early 60s new breed R&B. A bunch of funk as well. I go through phases. I like most things that are well informed though.

I’ve read that you used to be a rapper; have you never been tempted to rap on any of your records?

No way. I love rap, but I could care less about having raps on my beats unless it was someone really dope. It would have to be a really natural fit, or if Cam’ron was down I’d be with it.

You released a collection of remixes of songs by Goat last year. They’ve just released some new material, so would you consider doing something similar when they put another album out?

I actually did a remix on a limited 7” that came out with their UK release. I love them but I got to keep it moving. A collar would be more desirable at this point.

At your gig in Stockton you’re being supported by Girl Sweat, who is apparently one of your new favourite acts. How did you first come across Russell and his garage project?

I met him over here a while back. He opened for Night Beats on a tour I was doing with them and blew me away. Dude is so talented and such a sweet guy. Big up Girl Sweat!

Have you ever been to Stockton before? What are you expecting from the gig?

No, I’ve never been. Always super pumped to go to a new place. I’m not really expecting anything really except to meet some cool folks and have a good show haha.

What can we expect from a gig by Al Lover?

I can’t give away my secrets! You’ll have to wait and see, it’ll be dope though!

Al Lover plays at The Green Room, Stockton on Monday 20th July.

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