Tuesday, November 3, 2009

DFA and LCD SOUNDSYSTEM: label and band profile
Groove, 2005

by Simon Reynolds

For the last three years, DFA has been on a mission to make New York City live up to its own legend--"to be what it should be," as the label's co-founder James Murphy puts it. DFA's spiritual ancestors are early Eighties Manhattan labels like ZE, 99 and Sleeping Bag, pioneers of sounds like "punk-funk" and "mutant disco" that mixed dance culture's groove power with absurdist wit, dark humor and rock'n'roll aggression. The DFA sound flashes back to times and places when NYC's party-hard hedonism seemed to have both an edge and a point--Mudd Club, Hurrah's, Danceteria, Paradise Garage--but it rarely feels like a mere exercise in retro-pastiche.

The label's initial batch of vinyl-only singles in 2002--most famously "House of Jealous Lovers" by The Rapture and "Losing My Edge" by LCD Soundsystem--resurrected the idea of dance music spiked with punk attitude. Before long everybody was clamoring for a dose of DFA cool. Murphy, 34, and his English-born partner Tim Goldsworthy, 32, were touted as Superproducers, indieland's equivalent to the Neptunes. "Yeah I was the punk-funk Pharrell
Williams," laughs Murphy. "Which makes me Chad, I guess" adds Goldsworthy.

Janet Jackson phoned DFA and suggested collaborating, saying she wanted to do something "raw and funky" like "Losing My Edge." Amazingly, DFA sorta kinda forgot to follow up the call. Duran Duran were also interested in
getting DFA's magic touch. Most surreally, Goldsworthy and Murphy spent an afternoon in the studio with Britney Spears. "That was weird," says Goldsworthy. "Won't do that again. No offence to her--she's lovely. Got a foul mouth, though!" The brief session came to nothing, through lack of
common musical ground. "When we work with people, we hang out, listen to records, share stuff," says Murphy. "But with Britney we soon discovered we had absolutely no way of communicating. She didn't know anything that we
knew. I was excited when the idea was first broached, because I thought maybe there's something Britney wants to do, and it's fucking burning a hole in her, and we can find out what it is. And the collaboration could be embarrassing, a failure, but that's fine. But I think she's someone that's
very divorced from what she wants to do, there's been a set of performance requirements on her for such a long time, such that how would she even know what she wanted to do? And we never had time to found out anyway, because it
was like, 'she's available for four hours on Wednesday, write a song'. There's no way you can kid yourself you can make something real in those circumstances."

After these lost encounters with "the big time", DFA consciously backed away from the opportunities being thrust their way. "You stop returning phone calls, people get bored of you real quickly!" laughs Murphy. Instead, they concentrated on building up their own operation. The stance is bearing fruit now, with a freshly-inked global distribution deal between DFA and EMI. The first release under this new arrangement was the recent and highly impressive three-CD collection of DFA works so far, Compilation #2. It’s now followed by the brilliant debut album from LCD Soundsystem, which is James Murphy's own group.

Murphy and Goldsworthy originally met in inauspicious circumstances, as hired help for Irish deejay/producer/soundtrack composer David Holmes, who
was making his Bow Down To The Exit Sign album in Manhattan. Murphy did the engineering, Goldsworthy did the programming. The location was Murphy's West Village of Manhattan recording studio (now DFA's basement sound-lab). It didn't take long for the two technicians to suspect they were making most of the creative decisions. "Tim and I were forced to create a dialogue about how to
make sounds, because there was just this vague cloud of ideas coming from Holmes," says Murphy, gesturing to the back of the studio, where Holmes sat during the recording process. "Tim and I found we could talk about the most
subtle sonic things. Say, with Suicide, we could talk about the space between the two different organ sounds, or the lag between the organ playing and the drum machine beat, the way the two instruments don't lock together. Or we could talk about how earnest Alan Vega's Elvis-like vocal performance is, and how could we get that same quality out of the bass--a feeling that's earnest and embarrassing but saved by being actually totally for real."

Taking breaks from the recording grind, Goldsworthy and Murphy bonded further during Saturday night missions of full-on clubbing. Which is when Murphy, hitherto a typical indie-rock guy, had his dance music E-piphany. "Yeah, it's an unheard of story, isn't it?" he laughs. "A person who only
listens to rock goes off, does a mountain of Ecstasy, and gets converted to dance music".

The same thing had happened to Goldsworthy over a decade earlier, as an indiepop fan who got swept up in the UK's Ecstasy-fueled acid house revolution circa 1988. "I went from wearing an anorak and National Health spectacles into shaving my head and dancing in a field for eight hours!" In
the Nineties, Goldsworthy, like a lot of people, followed a vibe shift towards more chilled-out drugs (heavy weed) and moody, downtempo sounds, picking up especially on the music coming out of the early Nineties Bristol scene (very near where he grew up in the West of England). With his
schoolfriend James Lavelle, Goldsworthy co-founded the trip hop label Mo Wax, whose whole aesthetic owed a huge amount to Massive Attack's epochal 1991 album Blue Lines. Goldsworthy and Lavelle also made atmospheric and
increasingly over-ambitious music as the pivotal core of
UNKLE, a sort of post-trip hop supergroup that called upon diverse array of collaborators (ranging from DJ Shadow to Radiohead's Thom Yorke) on albums like Psyence Fiction. It's this background in "soundtrack for a non-existent
movie" music that led to Goldsworthy becoming the programming foil for David Holmes. Which ultimately led to him coming to Manhattan and meeting Murphy.

Goldsworthy had been through the whole dance culture experience and, like a lot of people, grown sick and tired of it. Murphy, a die-hard indie-rock/punk-rock guy, had always "loathed dance music. I thought it was all disco or C& C Music Factory. I didn't know anything about it and didn't
want to know anything about it. I'd really come up through the Pixies, the Fall, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, and all the Chicago noise punk stuff like Big Black." And in truth, when the two of them went out clubbing in New York while working on the Holmes record, there wasn't much going on in dance culture to counter either Goldsworthy's disillusion or Murphy's prejudice. The Manhattan scene was moribund. Goldsworthy had come to New York, a city that loomed large in his imagination because of hip hop and house, with high
expectations and was very disappointed. "I was shocked, it was so bad. You couldn't dance anywhere," he says, referring to Mayor Bloomberg's crackdown
on bars that had DJs spinning but didn't have the expensive "cabaret license" that nightclubs need to get to make it permissible for their patrons to wiggle their butts in time to the music. "It was fucking awful."

Beyond the specific malaise of Manhattan clubland, dance music at the close of the Nineties was going through a not very compelling phase. It was neither pushing fearlessly forward into the future with huge leaps of innovation like it had done for most of the Nineties, nor did it have that
edge-of-anarchy madness that characterized the rave scene in its early days. The superclubs were slick and soul-less. And technique-obsessed and genre-purist DJs had squeezed out an awful lot of vibe. By the start of
the new millennium, the new generation of hipster youth in New York and London had little interest in club culture, which seemed safe, passe and altogether lacking in cutting-edge glamour. These young cool kids were looking to guitar bands again, groups with stage moves and charismatic hair,
from the Strokes to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Murphy and Goldsworthy decided to rescue dance music from "McDepth--that McDonald's version of 'deep', where there's nothing there", Murphy explains. The duo cite everything from glitchy laptop musicians to Tortoise-style
post-rock to post-Blue Lines Massive Attack as examples of bogus profundity, chin-stroking pretentiousness, and terminal boredom. Revealingly, Murphy's MDMA revelation didn't occur listening to whatever passed for an Ecstasy
anthem in those days (Rolando's "Jaguar," say). No, the DJ dropped The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows"--one of his all-time favorite tunes--at exactly the point "when the drug was peaking" in his nervous system. And that gave Murphy the idea of "throwing parties and playing better music--like "Loose" by the Stooges--than what dance culture was offering at that time". Taking the name DFA--short for Death From Above, and originally the tag under which Murphy did infamously loud sound mixing for rock bands--they started throwing irregular parties in New York, based around the notion of bridging the considerable gap between Donna Summer and The Stooges. Soon, tired of endlessly playing their staple fare like Can and Liquid Liquid, the duo decided to make their own "dance-punk" tracks to spin.

"House Of Jealous Lovers" was their first stab. Dance distributors picked up the single purely for the house remix by Morgan Geist from cognoscenti-approved outfit Metro Area. "We'd heard his track 'Atmosphreak' and thought it was amazing," recalls Murphy. "One of the Rapture's friends,
Dan, was room mates with Morgan, and so we asked if he'd do a remix and he very kindly did one really cheap. It was only because of Morgan's remix that anyone took it--the dance distributors would often identify it in their orders as being by Morgan Geist." Ironically, and fatefully, it was DFA's original discopunk version that eventually took off.

"House of Jealous Lovers" arrived with perfect timing to catch the breaking wave of dancefloor taste shift towards edgy angularity--not just the rediscovery of Eighties groups like ESG and A Certain Ratio, but the emergence of neo-postpunk bands like !!!, Liars, Erase Errata, and Radio
Four (whom DFA also produced). But while The Rapture's slashing guitar and slightly-constipated, white-boys-getting-down funk bass flash you back to 1979 and UK agit-funk outfits like Gang of Four and Delta 5, Murphy &
Goldsworthy's production supplied the kind of pumping, monolithic regularity that made the track fully contemporary. "There were indie bands already
coming through doing that kind of rickety, Delta 5-style punk-funk, but we wanted to make records that house DJs would actually play," says Murphy. "We had a big talk with The Rapture about that Mr Oizo track 'Flat Beat', the
bassline in that tune. In 2000, when we were making 'House of Jealous Lovers', 'Flat Beat' was just about the only dance track around that was memorable. It was a tune you could remember, it fucked killed on the dancefloor, and it had incredible low end. So our attitude was, 'Jealous
Lovers' has to compete in that context. So we filtered the bass a lot, did a couple of layers of hi-hats and reversed them, took the drummer's playing and chopped it up." The drummer himself came up with the cowbell, which
eventually became a kind of DFA trademark. "House of Jealous Lovers" became a huge success on all kinds of different dancefloors. Some commentators regard it as the best single of the decade so far. It's certainly one of the most significant.

DFA's signature sound mixes Goldsworthy's computer wizardry and Murphy's background of engineering and playing in rock bands (DFA's remixes typically
feature his drumming, bass, and sometimes guitar). Two different kinds of knowledge mesh perfectly: Murphy's expertise at getting great drum sounds and capturing live "feel", Goldsworthy's digital editing skills and vast
sample-hound's knowledge of recorded music acquired during his Mo Wax days. Both guys look their respective parts. Slender, softspoken, and diffidently English in a way that often, he says, gets him mistaken for gay, Goldsworthy
seems like someone at home with delicate, intricate work--a century ago, you might have assumed from his intent, bespectacled gaze and fastidious manner that he was an engraver or watch-maker. Wearing a Taos ski resort T-shirt
and brown corduroy pants, the slightly pudgy and much more boisterous Murphy looks like your archetypal American indie-rock studio rat.

After a low-key spell in late 2003/early 2004--a steady flow of fine but not exactly throat-grabbing releases, from The Juan Maclean, Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom, and Black Dice--DFA came back strong in the last few months of 2004 with two of their most exciting singles yet. Pixeltan's "Get Up/Say What" is classic DFA discopunk, simultaneously raw and slick, while "Sunplus" by J.O.Y.--a Japanese outfit helmed by K.U.D.O, Goldsworthy's Tim 's former partner in UNKLE, and featuring guest vocals from Yoshimi P-We of the Boredoms--beautifully updates the thorny, fractured postpunk funk of LiLiPUT and The Slits. Like most DFA releases, these tracks came out as vinyl 12 inches. But don't fret if you've got no turntable--you can also find them on Compilation #2. Attractively packaged with the label’s trademark minimal design, the box set pulls together everything that wasn't on their first, not wholly satisfactory compilation, throws in a terrific bonus mix CD executed by Tim Goldsworthy and Tim Sweeney, and altogether
showcases a formidable body of work. Two highlights are Liquid Liquid's "Bellhead," a brand-new DFA recording of an old song by one of their Eighties postpunk heroes, formerly on the legendary 99 Records label, and the 15 minute disco-delic journey-into-sound that is "Casual Friday" by
Black Leotard Front (an alter ego for Gonzalez and Russom).

And now there’s the second release under the global distribution deal with EMI, the debut album from LCD Soundsystem, which people are already talking about as a contender for best album of 2005. In the studio, LCD is basically a James Murphy solo project with occasional help from friends who drop by, and some spiritual guidance from Goldsworthy. Live, though, LCD swells into a proper band, and a surprisingly powerful one, its sheer rock-funk force bringing to mind at various points Happy Mondays, the Lo-Fidelity Allstars, and The Stooges gone disco.

Released not long after “House Of Jealous Lovers”, LCD’s debut single “Losing My Edge” was the first indication that DFA weren’t just a pair of capable remixers, but that there was in fact a whole sensibility, aesthetic, and ethos behind the label, as well as a groovy retro-nuevo sound. Sung by Murphy, the song is the plaint of a cool hunter type--a musician, or DJ, or record store clerk, or possibly all three--who’s agonizingly aware that he’s slipping, as younger kids outdo his esoteric knowledge with even more obscure reference points. “I'm losing my edge to the Internet seekers who can tell me every member of every good group from 1962 to 1978,” the character whines. “To the art-school Brooklynites in little jackets and borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered eighties”. The aging hipster’s claims of priority and having been first-on-the-block get more and more absurd: “I was there in 1974 at the first Suicide practices in a loft in New York City/I was working on the organ sounds with much patience… I was the first guy playing Daft Punk to the rock kids/I played it at CBGB's… I was there in the Paradise Garage DJ booth with Larry Levan/I was there in Jamaica during the great sound clashes/I woke up naked on the beach in Ibiza in 1988.”

As well as being a hilarious auto-critique of hipsterism, “Losing My Edge” obliquely captured something of the pathos of the modern era. All this massive ever-accumulating knowledge about music history, the huge array of arcane influences and sources available thanks to the reissue industry and peer-to-peer filesharing, all the advantages we have today in terms of technology and how to get good sounds, have resulted in a kind of a kind of crisis of “well made” music, where producers are scholars of production, know how to get a great period feel, yet it seems harder and harder to make music that actually matters, in the way that the music that inspired them mattered in its own day. “Record collection rock” is my term for this syndrome, although the malaise is just as prevalent in dance culture (look at the perennial return of the 303 acid bass, each time sounding more exhausted and unsurprising).

“Losing My Edge” was very funny, but also poignant. Murphy agrees. “It’s incredibly sad. It took people a while to pick up on that. At first they were like, ‘ha! You got ‘em’, like it was just a satire on hipsters. What’s truly sad, though, is that the initial inspiration for it was from my deejaying in the early days of DFA, playing postpunk and an eclectic mix of dance and rock. And suddenly everybody started playing that kind of mixture, and I thought ‘fuck, now it’s a genre and I’m fucked, I’m not going to get hired’. My response was, “I was doing this first,” and then I realized that was pathetic, that I was this 31 year old hipster douchebag. So at the end of “Losing My Edge,” that’s why there’s the long list of bands-- Pere Ubu, Todd Terry, PIL, the Fania All-Stars, the Bar-Kays, Heldon, Gentle Giant, the Human League, Roy Harper, Sun Ra, on and on--‘cos in the end that’s what my attitude reduced to, just running around trying to yell the names of cool bands before anybody else!”. He says that a big part of DFA’s attitude is that “we definitely try to shoot holes in our own cool as fast as we can, because being cool is one of the worst things for music.” He cites DFA’s disco-flavored remix of Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon” as an example, its softness representing a deliberate swerve from the obvious punk-funk sound that DFA were known for.

“Beat Connection”, the even more impressive flipside to “Losing,” was also a meta-music statement, with Murphy accusing everyone on the dancefloor of colluding in lameness. “Everybody here needs a shove/Everybody here is afraid of fun/It’s the saddest night out in the USA/Nobody’s coming undone.” He explains that this was inspired by his and Goldsworthy’s experience of the “really uptight” New York club scene at the tail-end of the Nineties. When Murphy compares his lyrical approach to The Stooges--“really simple, repetitive, quite stupid”--he hits it on the nail. “Beat Connection” is dance culture’s counterpart to The Stooges 1969 classic “No Fun.” Which was probably the very first punk song--indeed the Sex Pistols did a brilliant cover version of it.

When people talk about LCD Soundsystem and DFA, though, the word that comes up isn’t punk rock so much as postpunk--Public Image Ltd (the band John Lydon formed after the Pistols broke up), Gang of Four, Liquid Liquid, etc. Murphy originally got into this era of music when he was working as sound engineer and live sound mixer for Six Finger Satellite, an abrasive mid-Nineties band who were precocious--indeed premature--in referencing the postpunk period well before it became hip again circa 2001. In a 1995 interview with me, Six Finger Satellite were already namedropping late Seventies outfits like Chrome and This Heat. They also recorded an all-synth and heavily Devo-influenced mini-album, Machine Cuisine, as a sideline from their more guitar-oriented, Big Black-like albums. “Going on tour with Six Finger Satellite was one of those super fertile times in my life in terms of finding out about music,” recalls Murphy. “They were like ‘do you know about Deutsche Amerikanishce Freundschaft? Do you know about Suicide?’, and they dumped all this knowledge on me while we were driving around the country from gig to gig. This was a few years before I met Tim, which was itself another very fertile and immersive period in terms of new music.” The Six Finger Satellite connection endures. DFA act The Juan Maclean is actually Six Finger guitarist John Maclean, making Kraftwerk-like electronica.

“Losing My Edge” b/w “Beat Connection” was followed by two more excellent LCD singles, “Give It Up” b/w “Tired” and “Yeah” (which came in a “Crass version” and a “Pretentious Version” and managed to make the 303 acid-bass sound quite exciting, against all the odds). These six early single tracks are collected on the bonus disc that comes with the debut LCD Soundsystem album. Running through a lot of the CD--particularly songs like “Movement” and “On Repeat”-- is that same meta-musical rage you heard in “Losing” and “Beat”: a poisoned blend of a desire for music to be revolutionary and dangerous, along with a defeatist, crippled-by-irony awareness that the age of musical revolution may be long past. “Movement,” the single, fuses the sentiments of “Losing My Edge” and “Beat Connection”, with Murphy surveying the music scene and pointing the finger--“it’s like a culture, without the effort, of all the culture/it’s like a movement, without the bother, of all of the meaning”--and then confessing to being “tapped”, meaning exhausted, sapped of energy and inspiration. Although the sentiment could apply just as equally to dance culture, Murphy says the song is specifically a reaction to all the talk of guitar rock making a comeback, “all the inanity that gets bandied about as rock journalism. It’s a complete rip of fashion journalism--‘the high waisted pant is BACK’. Like that's supposed to mean something. I mean, I hope you don't go around hearing ‘abstract expressionism is BACK! and HOTTER than EVER!’ in art mags.”

“On Repeat” is yet another LCD song about the ennui that comes when you’re been into music for a long time: the awareness of the cycles repeating, the eternal return of the same personae and poses, archetypes and attitudes, reshuffled with slight variations. “That attitude is where I’m coming from all of the time,” says Murphy. “The lyric referring to ‘the new stylish creep’--that’s me! The song is about hating what you are, and that giving you strength to hate everything else. It's weird. I love music so much that I want to drown it forever. Destroy everything.”

You can hear these conflicted emotions in Murphy’s singing voice. It has a weird tetchy texture that evokes a mixture of exasperation and fatigue, sounds at once spirited and dispirited. Murphy says that’s an accurate reflection of how he feels when he’s recording vocals. “It murders me. I hate hearing my own stupid voice in the headphones, with all the singerly bits and false poses. I sometimes have to sing things over and over until I hate the song, until there's no posy vocal bits in there that make me cringe. That song, ‘On Repeat,’ in particular was hell to do. But in the end I like it. Or at least I feel like I can stand behind it”. In terms of that frayed, worn-out quality to LCD vocals, Murphy says “I usually compress the shit out of the vocal with a VCA
compressor, which is really brutal. And I try to mix them so that the frequencies are like "Mother of Pearl" by Roxy Music or "Poptones" by PiL”.

Yet for all the lyrical and vocal notes of disillusionment and frustration running through LCD Soundsystem, the music itself is full of exuberance and playfulness, a delight in the sheer pleasures and possibilities of sound. “Too Much Love,” which seems to be a song about drug burn-out and excessive nocturnal socializing, features an awesome grating synth-whine that makes me think of a serotonin-depleted brain whimpering on the Tuesday after a wild weekend. Another standout track, “Disco Infiltrator” nods to Kraftwerk with its imitation of the eerie synth-riff from 1980’s “Home Computer.” It’s not a sample but a recreation, says Murphy. “It just an ascending chromatic scale, really. It's not rocket science!” The track also features some sweet semi-falsetto singing from Murphy that sounds like David Byrne circa Talking Heads’ Remain In Light. “It's just my shitty soul voice,” laughs Murphy. “Al Green has a beautiful soul, so that's what you hear coming through in his voice. My soul is absolute rubbish, so that's what comes out!”

The closing “Great Release” seems like a homage to Brian Eno’s song-based albums like Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy and Another Green World. “Actually, it’s Here Comes the Warm Jets-era Eno,” laughs Murphy. “It’s not a homage, though--I hate that word. No, I just like the type of energy that some Eno/Bowie stuff got, and some of the space of Lou Reed stuff, like ’Satellite of Love’. Some journalist got kind of stroppy with me about that song, and all I could think was, ‘is there seriously some problem with there being too many songs that use sonic spaces similar to early Eno solo work? I mean, is this really something we
need to talk about before it gets out of control?!?’”. I WISH I had that problem. Or is the problem just me--that I'm not being original enough? Because if it is, then let's just dump rock in the fucking ocean and call it a day, because I'm doing the best I can for the moment!”

Best of all is “Thrills,” in which Murphy comes off like Iggy Pop singing over a track that fuses The Normal’s “Warm Leatherette” with Suicide’s “Dance,” over a fat bassline not a million miles from Timo Maas. Actually, Murphy says, the inspiration for the bass-and-percussion groove is Missy Elliott's “Get Yr Freak On”. “I made the original version of ‘Thrills’ right when that came out. I loved that era of mainstream hip hop, it was a free-for-all. And just the bass of it.”

Of course, all these comparisons and reference points only underscore the point I earlier made in reference to “Losing My Edge”: the poignancy of living in a “late” era of culture, the insurmountable-seeming challenge of competing with the accumulated brilliance of the past and creating any kind of sensation of new-ness. “Yeah, that is kind of tattooed on my stomach,” says Murphy, referring to this pained awareness of belatedness. He acknowledges that “great influences do not a great record make”. And yet despite all the odds, the LCD album is a great record.

When I mention the American literary critic Harold Bloom’s concept of “anxiety of influence”--which argues that “strong” artists suffer from an acute sense of anguish that everything has been done before, and that makes them struggle against their predecessors in a desperate Oedipal attempt to achieve originality--Murphy flips out. “It's hilarious that you say this--I mention Bloom's anxiety theory pretty regularly in interviews! This is the shit I've been screaming about for years. Learning and progress has always been based on learning from the past. Real originality never comes from trying to defeat the past right out of the gate. It's a spark of an individual idea caused by the love/hate relationship between a "listener" and the "sound". I love music, and it inspired me at first to copy it, then to be ashamed of copying it, then to make music in "modes" (genres) while trying to pretend they were original, then finally making music with a purpose--which for me was dance music. It made people dance. It was no longer just music to make you look cool and feel like you were part of something you admire.

“I don't feel like I'm in any danger of making ‘retro’ music, but at the same time, there are things about the ways various people who've come before me did things
that I prefer greatly to the way ‘modern’ things are done. I use a computer. I edit and do all sorts of modern shit, but there are things I consciously do that were done in songs I love from before me.”

As much as love, though, it’s hate that inspires LCD Soundsystem in equal measure. “I hate the way bands stand on stage, the gear they use, the crew they hire to tune their tedious guitars, the love they have for their special ‘guitar amp, the belief in their fragile, phoney little singer who's a fucking sham. They are not and will never be Iggy Pop. Neither will I, or my band, but we know it, and we're trying our fucking best to be the LCD Soundsystem. Complete with its laundry list of influences, failures and idiocies. At least you go onstage knowing that, good or bad, no one is like you.”

* * * * *

Many labels never survive the initial hype storm of being hip. Murphy recalls a peculiar, uncomfortable phase when "we kept seeing magazines with profiles of DFA, but we weren't really releasing anything at the time." Now,
though, he's thankful that "we're not ascendant anymore. At this point we're kind of cruising along. And it's nice. It doesn't feel like it's out of our control anymore."

And what about New York, the city whose mythos is so central to DFA? Is it living up to its own reputation at the moment? "It's a great city, but people get lazy here," says Murphy. "So we and a few other people we think
of as allies, we go into phases of trying to punch the city into being interesting, Then we go home for a couple of months and hang out with our wives and cook. And then it's like, 'okay, time to go out punching again'. And it's getting to be about that time again. For a while, we were like 'oh
fuck them, let them live in their filth of terrible parties, shitty DJs, just doing the same thing'. See I can't go to these parties where people play records that are sent to them by promoters 'cos they're genre djs, part of a genre. I've always loathed that. And then I found myself in that
situation again," Murphy sighs, referring to the way DFA gets lumped together with Black Strobe and Trevor Jackson of Playgroup/Output, the way genre-crossing becomes its own kind of genre. "That's not what I signed up
for, you know? I didn't leave indie rock to end up back in indie rock!"

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