While on tour together in the US, the xx’s Jamie Smith talked in-depth to Martin ‘Blackdown’ Clark about We’re New Here, his XL-commissioned remix album for Gil Scott-Heron.
The interview was organised as context for the sleeve notes for the record, writen by Clark, but none of the quotes were used in the final cut. Clark has now posted the full interview on his blog, where Jamie reveals (amongst a lot more), that he was approached with the project by XL boss Richard Russell, off the back of his 2009 remix of Florence and the Machine’s ‘You Got the Love’.
“Initially I was thinking more about the transition between the tracks”, says Jamie of his approach to the album. “It was when I’d just started to DJ, so it felt like a mixtape but with all my own productions. The end product isn’t like a mixtape because the tempos are all over the place, but I wanted to show how he influenced me by putting some of the older tracks on there, rather than just the brand new music [from I’m New Here]. So we used some unreleased stuff that was recorded in the 1970s.
“They sent me that half way through making it because I wanted to use some of his old stuff… you can tell the difference in his voice, it’s changed so much. The older stuff is much more vocal rather than speaking, singing and more melodic I guess. And it was slower in tempo. So I didn’t have a plan for the older and newer stuff, I just wanted the whole album to sound like one piece of music. We tried to do that with the XX album too.”
He also talks about the time Gil Scott-Heron was supposed to perform with the xx in New York but turned up too late, writing him letters about the album, Plastic People’s influence on the record, and guest appearances by his xx bandmates as well as jj. You can read the whole thing on Blackdown’s blog.