US hardcore pioneer and Husker Du founder turned DJ Bob Mould plays Sound System at Primavera Sound this Saturday 4 June. We asked him about his move towards electronics and back and his dream producer in the lead up to the festival.
Sound quality isn’t the first thing you would associate with the US hardcore punk scene, how important was it to Husker Du and who would have been your dream producer?
Back in the 1980s, hardcore punk bands were lucky if there was a PA. There were plenty of DIY shows where bands or promoters would rent a small church PA. As far as a dream producer back then, I would have loved to work with George Martin.
Was there any particular sound – either track or producer – that sparked your interest in electronica and your subsequent move into that area, both in DJing and recording?
I became a fan of electronica while living in NYC in the late 1990s. My gateway artists were Sasha and Daft Punk. I became a student of different styles of house and electronica, and my favorite sub-genre is still French touch. I appreciate the structures and melodies of progressive house as well.
What artists’ recordings interest you sonically at the moment and why?
I’ve dropped away from electronica the past five years and focused almost entirely on my roots as a loud guitarist in a three piece rock band. Having said that, I’m a fan of the Anjunabeats label, Nora En Pure, and Croatia Squad.
Given the care you put into making music, is there a perfect listening environment for your recordings?
My most recent rock album, Patch The Sky is really suited for headphones. The stories are very personal and the vocals are placed just below the surface of the mix.
Are you just as happy for people to listen to your music from their phones as an MP3 and why?
As a fan, I appreciate the portability of MP3s. Vinyl is the best representation of organically created music. Digital is fine for modern electronica. I DJ with CDs out of convenience and my less than stellar vinyl juggling skills.
The reason we built the Sound System is because we wanted to see if we could bring proper hi-fi clarity to a club whilst losing none of the power and bass. We wanted something that would transport the audience.
How important are the dynamics of a club to you?
Low end clarity is key for DJ sets. Stereo imaging and phase coherency is important for vocal and melodic information. Proper compression across the stereo buss — and how to work with “the limit” from track to track — is something the DJ needs to be mindful of, especially across a longer set.
What we can expect from your set at Primavera this year?
Since my set is in the early afternoon, I’ll keep it melodic and upbeat without getting too noisy or frantic. I’ve been looking through 15 years of house, lots of older French house standards, some newer R&B based indie house, and maybe a few remixed classic pop songs. Hey, it’s the beach on Saturday afternoon!
What 3 tracks that would really put the Sound System through it’s paces (you can include one of your own!)
I’ll test the system with remixes I did for Low:
Interpol, and VHS Or Beta. I’m sure the Sound System will be excellent — see you Saturday!
Bob Mould will be playing Sound System at Primavera, Saturday 4th June.