Published May 26, 2008For anyone whos seen a room fall under the spell of the Mole, its no surprise that his long-awaited debut As High As the Sky (on Mathew Jonsons Wagon Repair label) is as good as it is. Colin de la Plante, the master sampler behind the Mole, has had long enough to rise to the occasion. Colin talks to Exclaim! about the changes his move to Berlin had on his music and how he adapted his songs to fit his live show.
You've been pretty strict about the singles so far. Why did you finally decide to assemble an album and how long did it take for the whole work to come together?
I guess the album finally came together because of my move to Berlin. I had decided to do it earlier with Wagon Repair. In fact, there was a race between Danuel Tate [of Cobblestone Jazz] and me to see who would get his out for summer. The whole thing took a few months to complete. I started working on it when I first came to Berlin, but in actual fact that was just the assembling process, the fine-tuning and song selection. Only two new songs were written. There are some on the album that are six-plus years old, which I've been dying to get out.
Ah right... Why?
Well I guess it was finally time. I've been turning down album offers for some time now, but when Wagon Repair made the offer it seemed to obvious not to say no. They are such a dream to work with, a pleasure really, and well I guess I'm finally ready.
How has the recent move to Berlin affected your outlook on producing?
It has changed the records I buy, which is a very big part of my work process. Now that there is less American music around I'm getting into things I've never seen from the other side of the iron curtain, things like Polish jazz and Hungarian prog rock or German jazz rock. I found a great one that is constantly referencing Chicago (the band, not the city). And this has been quite a nice new set of discoveries for me. Also this city has some truly amazing techno happening, lots of good DJs, lots and lots of good sets, and real techno too. I mean the raw stuff that always makes me think of warehouses. Berlin is pushing me away from the desire to have a real band. It's making me want to produce better sounding music. The greatest thing I think is being able to make something one day and try it out in a club full of people the next. This is a blessing.
You've always excelled live, and AHATS sounds like a reflection of that. Do you consider the live scenario when working on an album? Or is it the other way around?
I was really focused first on making vinyl that DJs would like, keeping to my singles point of view because it is one I understand quite well. And then I focused on the CD, trying to make one that wouldn't sound like club tune after club tune. One that could be good for a long drive. One hopefully without too much skipping. What is that Kool Keith quote? "Your album is only one song strong. I tried to avoid that.
It was after I had finished the album that I started to integrate some of the songs into my live set, the ones that weren't already born there because a lot of my songs are born in the live set, get tested there first then arranged later once I'm comfortable with my understanding of them.
Now that you've released a solo album, is a Modern Deep Left Quartet record far behind given that you're living closer to some of the other group members?
I love this question!!!! I had to tell Mat [Jonson] right away. I really truly hope it is soon. Mat and I were in the studio yesterday and had some good results. Hopefully when Pat [Tyger Dhula] and Dan [Tate] get here there will be more. To be honest, only Mathew is living here now [we live together] and Tyger Dhula and Danuel are both still in Victoria with their families. But when they come here to tour as Cobblestone Jazz, you can sure bet that we are going to take advantage of the downtime in the studio. So hopefully that record is coming soon. I can't wait to hear what it'll sound like. Last time we jammed it was insane. We made crazy music. Unfortunately, we were in a really poor listening environment and since we do live mixing and arrangements to tape the sessions were unusable.