Wednesday 9 June 1976

Interview with Resident Advisor for 'Sonar Prologues' series

From Resident Advisor 9th June 2006

The MFA (Alastair Douglas & Rhys Evans) first registered on RA's radar with their track 'The Difference it Makes'.

The lush deep filtered house tune was one of the highlights of James Holden's 2003 Balance 005 compilation, so good it was later released on Border Community and then by Kompakt a full year on. 
Weary of being limited to just one genre, the duo's subsequent releases spanned epic trance (a tag they joyously embrace), acid, electro-breaks and rave. The approach won fans further a field, their 'Zone Day' EP picked up by BPitch Control. On the remix front they tackled Ellen's own 'Magma' and provided reworks for Telepopmusik and Junior Boys. 

Yet while their productions continue to garner acclaim, it's the live show where The MFA come into their own. Following in the footsteps of great British live acts like Underworld, Orbital and The Prodigy, the guys relish the opportunity to reinvent their back catalogue, reveal a new anthem or lay down an unusual cover. Previous shows have included snippets of 'Mandate My Ass' and some bastardised LFO.

RA caught up with Alastair to talk minimal/trance/scarves... 

How many times have you been to Sonar? 
We have never been, so we are really looking forward to it. We've played in Barcelona quite a few times and some of our best gigs have been there so we are really looking forward to it.

Do you have a favourite festival memory? 
I was at Homelands 2000 as a punter when I saw Roni Size and Reprazent doing the best live act that I have ever seen. A great combination between live instruments and vocals and electronic live. That was one of the years when the festival turned into a mud bath - I still have the mud encrusted on my trainers from 6 years ago. That and watching England vs Germany on a big screen at a festival in 2002. I'm going to be diving out of things at Sonar to keep myself up to date with the World Cup this year!

For many Europeans Sonar is the start of summer, does the warmer weather affect your sound at all? 
No, not at all, I don't think. As we are a live act, we are just playing our own music anyway so it doesn't really make a difference as to what the weather is. A bigger factor is what kind of response you are getting from the crowd and responding to them.

For people not used to a Spanish lifestyle, a siesta is not part of their usual day. How do you approach the afternoon break? 
Well last time I was in Spain there was no one going around forcing you to sleep! But I think that it makes sense to get some sleep at the hottest time of they day. Having said that, I find that I end up going nocturnal like some marsupial when you are out partying every night.

Sonar is very interested in new frontiers, not just technology but art, music and social trends as well. What do you think have been some of the biggest developments of the last year? 
Well it seems that "minimal" is now the biggest thing since trance! I am not an expert on different types of music but I find it a bit depressing that the English scene seems to have lost some of its identity. The whole "scarf wearing in clubs" thing for example is all very well in Berlin but it’s a bit depressing when everyone in London starts doing it purely because copying everything that happens in Berlin is automatically cool. I would much rather that places kept more of their own identity.

The Sonar programme is always quite diverse and innovative. Who are you looking forward to seeing? 
The thing I am most looking forward to is the fact that I will end up seeing lots of new music and people that I have never heard before. I am not very good at exposing myself to new music - I tend to listen to all my favourites from when I was a kid too much so it will be really great to hear so much new music all in one go in such a great setting as Barcelona. Out of "famous" people I am really looking forward to watching Agoria play as I have never seen him in the flesh.

At this year's festival you're playing the main stage with Goldfrapp, Miss Kittin and Modeselektor. That's a big line-up in a huge arena. How do you approach your live sets, and will you be doing anything special for Sonar? 
The live set has always been very important to us. We are completely changing our live set-up for Sonar so that we will be doing live vocals, keys and visuals and generally running around more between different sets of equipment. That's because we want to put on as much of a show as we can (without dressing up in silly costumes!) for the big festivals this summer and it can look a bit boring with just a few control boxes and a laptop.

Is their a particular tune you are looking forward to playing at Sonar? 
I'm just looking forward to unleashing the new show as Sonar is going to be the first time that we bring all the new parts of the live show together.

The minimal bandwagon has been one of the big forces in recent years. Can you see a revival of credible trance on the horizon? 
Yes definitely. I think that a lot of music around at the moment sounds pretty trancey anyway. I think what will happen is that the trance sound will start catching back on but that producers will be very careful to produce it in a more technoey sounding way. I think that we will start to see a whole lot of "acceptable" trance.

Do you have anything planned for the rest of summer? 
We've got a new single "Throw it Back" (We will Destroy you) coming on Border Community and we are playing lots of shows over the coming months.

The MFA play SonarClub at Sonar by Night on Saturday 17 June at 2.30am

Richard Chinn

Originally published here

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