Shine A Light On… Shift Work Mix & Talk
The newly formed Shift Work – one of them used to be Factory Floor no less! – have been keeping rather busy since their inception. They've already had a rather fine release out on Optimo Music which got plenty of support on these pages and elsewhere as well as going on a recent performance outing to Corsica Studios. There's also turns at Sub Club and The Lexington upcoming.
They've provided us with this week's Shine A Light On mix so we decided to get up close and personal, and a bit weird, with the pair. Get this on first tho:
Please introduce yourselves:
Who are you?
Mark and Johnny.
Where are you?
M: In a happy place.
J: On a really uncomfortable chair.
What are you?
M: We think of ourselves as electronic chancers, we've been billed as a techno band.
J: Kinda what Mark says, sums it up quite nicely.
When did you first decide that you wanted to produce your own music?
J: When my guitar tutor showed me his multi-track recorder. I was shit at guitar but I got a recorder and just experimented with the layering of sounds. Guess I was about 15.
M: When my school did a talent show for the first and only time and the end act was a band playing Oasis covers. I thought "this is a really low barrier of entry – everyone loves it but crucially it's totally shit. Maybe I could improve on that".
What spurred this on?
J: As mentioned above. I was a sham on the guitar in a conventional sense but fascinated with sound, especially fucking with it.
I just enjoyed listening to the racket I made on playback; as of that time the sounds were quite foreign to me. I have always had something to say wither it’s physically or aurally. It’s a compulsion, a necessity.
M: trying unsuccessfully to form bands in my home town, with the black hole of London sucking me in. Discovering bands like PiL, Human League and Devo and realising they just had ideas and enthusiasm over any significant ability, they just made it work. That was a real revelation.
Getting lost in new dance music whenever I found something stuff I loved. My friend recently sent me a track by Paula Temple for example; I played it on loop for two days. Earlier this year I was obsessed with Porter Ricks.
I guess also I like being in a band cause you can spur each other on – I don’t want to give Johnny any old shit, and we’re working together to make something that we’re both really proud of. I don’t want my half of the project to let the team down, and I want the finished thing to be the best fucking thing we can make. So yeah, being spurred on never stops I guess, when it does it’s time to give up.
What’s your earliest memory of music?
J: Hearing David Bowie in my Dad's car. The Best of Bowie, naturally.
M: Bon Jovi. Blaze of Glory.
What was the first electronic music you ever heard and how did it make you feel?
J: Happy Hardcore when I was about 12. Was intense.
M: Jean Michel Jarre for some reason. I remember really enjoying the lush soundscapes…but also thinking that it could do with a bit of backbone.
One of you were in Factory Floor, correct?
Correct, it was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Why did you leave and do you still speak?
I left to catch a plane to Berlin. We haven't spoken to Gabe for at least…four hours. He's just promised to man our merch stall this Friday.
Who would you say were your biggest influences?
As reference points go, Factory Floor are a great starting point but it extends far beyond that.
What else informs and influences your sound?
J: For me it’s Martin Hannett and that’s it really. More influenced by the happy accidents that occur; as they lead the way to the end result you might say. Mark having started Factory Floor with Gabe will result in a thread which people will recognise but we are fine with the comparisons. We are all on that 20 year cycle anyway. Everything is just a rehash. As long as you get off on it, you keep yourself honest and you keep exploring then who cares. Overall it's influenced by blind enthusiasm and educated naivety.
M: yeah all of the above, but also sounds and how they fit and contrast with each other. Anything by Brian Eno…It's obvious I know, everyone says him but aside from the lush sounds, production techniques etc I also realised with his stuff, less is totally more. Sometimes we'll layer up tons of tracks scrap almost all of it and then just end up with one more than we started with…and then I think "thanks Brian".
Where did the name come from?
I had been using it as a solo name (for tracks that no-one heard…I make no apologies, I'm a Fall fan). At the time we were called something else, Johnny thought it was a cooler name (crucially with no symbols) so we changed to Shift Work.
Factory Floor, Shift Work… are we going to see a whole scene of artists dedicated to the daily grind?
Probably, if they can ever get out of their day jobs (see below).
Do you know what shelf-stacker would sound like if they were a band?
It would be the sound of health and safety, best stacking practice and inoffensive indie blasting out of the PA system – so Coldplay or something, probably. Dreams crushed by meaningless lyrics and saccharine melody.
J: My new Pulse 2. It's a bass weapon.
M: Doepfer Dark Energy 1. It's the workhorse.
Which synth do you wish you owned if money were no object?
J: Yamaha CS80. Gotta love the Vangelis pads.
M: Fuck off church organ with the massive pipes. Not really a synth but that’s what it would be.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
M: Getting this fucking remix done [for Robi Headman].
J: Night Nurse.
What’s your favourite place on earth?
M: New York right now, as that is where my girlfriend lives.
J: New York as that is where Mark’s girlfriend lives ; ) [Tis a joke Mark].
When was the last time you played a good game of table tennis?
Not long enough ago.
In which century does Star Trek take place?
M: Which series?
J: Don’t they work by star dates or something?
Who was the 4th doctor who on TV?
Sylvester McCoy? Tom Baker? It's got to be Tom Baker.
Who captained Stingray?
What do you do on Sundays?
M: Run away to hide in the studio.
J: Then to the pub when things go a bit stale.
What is the meaning of life?
M: Working hard but not so hard you die too soon.
J: No real meaning, so just try and have some good times while you are around and if you are lucky you might leave some sort of legacy at the end of it.
Is there a God?
M: Depends who you ask.
Do blondes have more fun?
M: Have to ask Johnny.
Is there anybody out there?
M:Yes. In a parallel universe there's a twin Shift Work that answered exactly the opposite. One of us is lying.
Who is the most famous person in the world?
M: Surely it's the Michelin man.
What is love?
M: Being given someone's last Rolo.
What is the secret to happiness?
M: Make sure you keep to deadlines, or failing that, knowing you can twist arms to get an extension…
J: So you broke that Robi guy’s arm then?
Did Tony Soprano die?
J:Was that even an option?
And now for something a little more relevant…
I love the mix. When we first met you said you didn’t DJ but by the sounds of this you were lying. Talk us through the mix and how it was put together.
J: Racked though my music, contacted some people whose stuff I liked to get some material as nothing was out official, namely OTB records! Love that ‘Don’t Do It’ track. Then was just a case of planning some sort of order to it all. To be honest it is only the second attempt at a mix I have done, the other one I did was for Electronic Explorations but never got used. Guess they thought it was a bit pony. Glad this one turned out. I do enjoy the research, listening and planning that is involved with the whole process though. Just got a myself a copy of Traktor as I heard it was pretty good, and beavered away till early hours with breaks to watch a bit of cage fighting on C4 and nibble on some curry flavored savory cornflake snacks. Not really that cool or revolutionary but that is how it went.
What was it recorded on and how did you go about selecting the records?
J: As above.
Where was the mix recorded?
J: The living room.
Preferred form of ‘consuming’ music?
J: Wax for sound.
Digital for convenience.
Tape for the challenge.
What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?
M: In a dark room.
What should we be wearing?
J: Nothing, would solve a lot.
What would be your dream setting to record a mix: Location/system/format?
J: Dark room, strobe, bottle of Cointreau.
Which track in the mix is your current favourite?
J: ‘Don’t Do It’ OTB Records.
What’s your favourite recorded mix of all time?
M: Hmm, can we come back to you? It’s a bit like having to choose your all-time pick ‘n’ mix.
What’s more important, the track you start on or the track you end on?
J: End. We all have short memories.
What were the first and last records you bought?
M: Last record was Locsil's Sea Island. First record…The Best of Bowie.
J: Dr Dre ‘The Chronic’ when I was about 10. My dad heard it on car journey home. We turned around and he made me take it back. Was exciting while it lasted.
Last record was Johnny Cash ‘Folsom Prison’ on vinyl. Love Johnny Cash.
If this mix was an edible thing, what would it taste like?
M: Chilli chocolate.
If it was an animal what would it be?
M: A werewolf (does that count?). It sounds more aggressive at night.
One record in your collection that is impossible to mix into anything?
J: One of our own tracks.
Anything else we need to discuss?
M: Here comes the plug…we have a show at the Lexington this Friday on 28th November, then playing a great night at Sub Club in Glasgow for the xmas bash on 5th December, really looking forward to that…and then playing some shows up north east and north west early next year. We are also recording in January so hopefully another EP will emerge then too. Other than that, open to offers.