Entertainment Music

Saturday 16 December 2017

The Field's Axel Willner on ditching laptops, lionel richie and electronica

Ed Power

Ed Power

For a painfully fashionable electro artist, you really go out on a limb with your music. Not many in clubland would have the gumption to sample the Four Tops, The Flamingos and Lionel Richie -- and without a whiff of irony.

I have a special relationship with the songs I sample. It could be important to me for good or bad reasons.

But you aren't winking at the listener. When you lift the guitar part from Lionel Richie's Hello, it's clearly because you like it, rather than because you're working some lame 'guilty pleasure' angle.

Most of the time I only like the things that I use -- I think that's fair to say.

Your first album, From Here We Go To Sublime, received more five-star reviews than any other LP released in 2007. But you changed things quite radically on the follow-up, Yesterday and Today, using a live drummer, guitarist and vocalist. It wasn't broke -- and you tried to fix it anyway!

What happened was that the whole live show changed. I got pretty bored playing live by itself, using just a laptop. I invited some friends along. So I decided I would also record like that. That's the formula now, recording using a mix of electronic and acoustic instruments.

Speaking of breaking down things and rebuilding them, you were responsible for a fairly radical remix of Thom Yorke's Cymbal Rush. From listening to your music we wouldn't have twigged you as a Radiohead fan.

I actually listen to all kinds of stuff. Actually, I don't listen to that much club music any more. When the club becomes your work, you don't want to go there in your leisure time. Sometimes I do put on techno at home and enjoy it. But mostly it's old krautrock things, stuff like that.

What's with calling yourself 'The Field'. Are you by any chance a John B Keane fan?

It's called The Field because I want to pick from as wide a field of music as possible. I thought it was a very suitable name. To be honest, I was kind of surprised no-one had thought of it before.

Some of your song titles are pretty evocative -- A Paw In My Face, Sun and Ice and so forth. Are they loaded with deeper meaning or chosen randomly?

Everything is connected to what I'm feeling in a way. The titles I use depend a lot on what is going on for me in my life. On the other hand, it's not as if I put THAT much time into them. It's really the first thing that comes into my head.

You once recorded a concept album for a fashionable Stockholm hotel. Were you bravely entering untested waters or just trying to score a fast payday?

The idea is that you would have a postcard CD. When you stay at the hotel, you can bring home the CD. It was supposed to be part of the experience of staying there. It was in Stockholm, which is my home town and where I was living at the time. I stayed at the hotel for two nights. That felt pretty strange... staying at a hotel in the city where you lived.

The Field play Body and Soul festival, Ballinlough Castle, Co Westmeath, on June 18, 19

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