Thom Yorke’s decade-long love affair with dance music is, it seems, a complicated sort of amour.
In a Rolling Stone interview with Yorke and Atoms For Peace cohort Nigel Godrich, the pair offer an interesting diagnosis of contemporary clubland. Whilst Godrich attacks the ascendancy of EDM (“what you end up with in the mainstream is horrible – this distillation of the DJ thing”), Yorke sounds off on the negative aspects of “DJ culture” more broadly:
I have to say, I don’t like a lot of the DJ culture that goes around it. I don’t like this sort of, get paid a lot of money and the DJ comes and he just fucking does his set. Which is fine, ’cause he knows it works and he’s worked hard at it – but sometimes, you’re like, “Really? What, really?”
Drawing on Mark Pritchard as an authority, Yorke sets his sights on the cynical way in which DJs secure and maintain bookings:
When I was in Australia, Mark Pritchard was talking about how for a lot of DJs, it’s their main source of income, so they’ll do what works, ’cause otherwise they don’t get booked. So they don’t take risks. But he was talking about how, like, in the Panorama Bar in Berlin, for example, and in Plastic People when it first started in London, and in Low End Theory people would come in and play what the fuck they wanted, and they would switch styles, and that’s the whole point!
For all the gripe, there’s also enthusiasm galore. Godrich talks about his obsession with Virtual Vinyl software (“that really blew my mind”). Yorke also revealed that his current “obsession” is Actress (“I like his aesthetic, that kind of lo-fi element”) and shouts out The Gaslamp Killer as “my favourite DJ”. Yorke also repeatedly bigs up L.A. beat institution Low End Theory, and describes being strong-armed by FlyLo to play at the club:
Some of the most exciting things that have happened to me recently have been, like, when FlyLo dragged me to Low End Theory for the first time, kicking and screaming, ’cause I didn’t want to do it, ’cause I was jet lagged or whatever, and it was just mental. Fucking mental. And such a good camaraderie with the people at the club, because they all know each other. It was really different, not what I was used to. It wasn’t super-clubby – it was just fucking loud and fucking fun, you know? A lot of that scene, the music’s bonkers, man.
The pair recently went in-depth on the comparatively important topics of young love and body image in an agony aunt video for teenage girl mag Rookie. Yorke, meanwhile, is busy inadvertently making people spit coffee over their computer screens.