“It’s probably 65% samples, but I also use a few old 80s synth modules whose sound I fell in love with. ‘X-Ray’ on the album is 100% synths and ‘Daisy Chain’ is 100% samples.
“As much as I find the sampling terrorist narrative appealing (Hip-Hop/Plunderphonics etc) I don’t think that in the light of file-sharing and the complete meltdown in the perceived notion of what is illegal and what is legal (does anyone seem to care any more?) that it’s a valid artistic “strategy” any more. Actually I’m very nervous about the uncleared samples in my music. I went to see a Music Lawyer in the West End and, slightly to their surprise, asked them what I would need to do to protect myself in the event of a litigation. This is part of the reason why I’m operating the label as a limited liability company.
“The problem is that I’m too insignificant for any major label to grant me clearance on anything even if I applied for permission. In fact I would need to sell upward of 20, 000 copies of a disc for it even being worth any larger entity taking me to court, and even then the standard fee that artists who sample without permission pay in the event of successful litigation is in the region of 20% of the profits. This is why all the big undie Hip-Hop producers like Madlib never bother clearing their samples.
“To strip away all the bullshit the reason I sample is to do with taking a beautiful sound and releasing it. When Grandmaster Flash was spinning the same section of two tracks back-to-back to create a loop it was because the “break”, often that unadorned drumbeat in the bridge, was what everyone wanted to hear. Often those tracks which got sampled in Hip-Hop, which are now lovingly assembled in curated discs, are basically crap excepting those magic moments. Certainly this was how I ended up making ‘Daisy Chain’. Nestled towards the end of this really horrific Hard Rock Opus there was this, really tiny, sublime section. It’s only about 30 seconds long, but I chopped it up into about 40 pieces, looped some sections to extend them, double-tracked some parts, went back and forth between sections and it ended up nearly 4 minutes-long.
“In fairness there is one critical “meta” aspect of sampling which does appeal to me, and that’s the fingerprint of “zeit” which samples manifest. You hear of people hiring in singers and instrumentalists to copy samples, even firms who specialise in this kind of thing, and you kind of weep so drastically does it miss the point.”