The Kaje talks solo to Dan Le Sac

Daniel Stephen is better known as Dan Le Sac, who is better known for his work alongside Scroobius Pip (or David Peter Meads-whichever you prefer!), however having unleashed two supremely successful albums as a unit, the pair have gone on a temporary hiatus to explore the solo world. With his debut solo album ‘Space Between The Words” having more than proven he is a capable musician and engaging artist, Dan Le Sac is undertaking yet another challenge-the solo tour. As he prepares to hit the road, The Kaje caught up with the Essex’ innovator to find out how he was feeling…
You are best known for your work with Scroobius Pip-how nervous were you unveiling your solo work?
Really nervous but not because of what I’m known for, it was more about not being known as a solo artist. Hopefully I’ve acquitted myself well enough though!
What prompted the decision to go it alone?
Just time really, with Scroob of doing his “nu-metal” thing, his words not mine, I just started writing & after about 6 months or so I realised I had the foundations of an album. It took me a little longer to decide to actually put it out though!
Tell us some more about the album ‘Space Between The Words’…
It is a difficult beast to describe, it covers so many genres & styles that it has become hard to pigeon hole. The Dan & Pip records are eclectic but it gets to a new level when left to my own devices. I think that’s why I’ve used so many different vocalist on SBTW, it felt right to get B Dolan to share space with Emmy the Great or Merz.
While there aren’t Scroobius Pip collabs on the album, you have teamed up with an array of artists for the album. how do you choose who to work with?
It was fairly simple to be honest, most of the collaborators are friends & people I respect, and this album was a great opportunity to work with them all.
What makes a succesful partnership?
Just being honest, it makes no sense to go along with something for the sake of someone else’s feelings. You’ve both got to love what you do, or neither of you will end up happy.
Who out there do you dream of working with?
Thom Yorke, Cat Power, PJ Harvey, Bernard Sumner, Devendra Banhart to being with but I really like finding new voices to, Kid A on the 2nd DvP record is one of my favourite “finds”!
You are heading out on the road solo-excited?
Scared & excited! We did our first show at Bestival & it was great but I have never felt more nervous than I did on that stage. Even when walking out with Pip to play to 15000 people, I’m usually fairly relaxed but the solo thing is certainly a more raw experience for me.
 What can be expected from your solo show?
It’s a live show, no dj tricks, no just pressing play, it’s Sarah Williams White & myself smashing out these new songs with as many guest vocalists as I can find along the way.
with ‘Space Between The Words’ out there, what is next?
I’ve got to get through the tour first before I can answer that correctly but Pip & I are starting on our 3rd LP, so I’m guessing that’ll take up a lot of my time, although I have been putting together a little electro band, think Human League “Being Boiled” Vs A Certain Ratio’s “Do the Du”, but we’ll just have to wait & see how that pans out!
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The Kaje talks public perception to Christian Scott

Christian Scott is without any doubt one of the world’s most highly respected contemporary jazz musicians. While jazz is far from household name material these days, Scott has managed to cross over genre borders and bring his trumpet centric compositions to the mainstream. With his eighth album “Christian aTunde Adjuah” boasting a phenomenal 23 tracks, Scott is being celebrated for his journeys through the personal and social. Having fallen in love with the Grammy Award nominated composer’s earlier recordings, hear at The Kaje we jumped at the chance to hang out backstage with Scott as he prepared for a show at the Birmingham Symphony Hall…

A lot of critics are hailing “Christian aTunde Adjuah” as your most personal to date, was that an intention of yours?

It is interesting because a lot of people are saying that about the record, but I don’t think it is. All of them are personal. It is like saying which child is the most personal kid of yours. To me it is a little absurd but I understand it. People feel that way because of the name of it. The name completion. They  see that and automatically it makes them think the record has to be more personal.

People are maybe reading more into the title than was intended…

Of course they are. There is nothing wrong with that. I understand it. That is definitely what happened.

On the record it is not just the personal that you deal with. There are many tracks dealing with social and global issues. So from that point of it is not necessarily a personal record…

I learned a long time ago that you can use music as a vehicle to address the issues of your time. Things that need to be changed. Things you would like to see different. Things you would encourage people to engage more energy in changing. I don’t have the mind that says when I see an issue that it has to be completely different, some issues come from the situation that lead to them. Sometimes you can have the greatest minds of the world reaching a consensus yet the same shit happens. I like to use my music to address these things without telling people what to think. I just think it is important that people think.

It is almost challenging people…

Yeah, I am just saying “what do you think?” I don’t have the personality type that thinks my way of approaching things is right. That is absurd. But there are a lot of things going on in our time period that are pretty bad.

I grew up in New Orleans and that has always been a victim of the power struggle. Some people have to starve damn near to death just to survive in a place like that. There are some people out there going through some really difficult shit and there is a whole world of people out there who don’t care. That’s heavy.

Do you feel as someone with a public profile, that you have a responsibility to use it wisely and raise due attention?

Lots of people have a platform, but they don’t always think about what they are saying. In music a lot of people are speaking about the things they see. But having met a lot of artists, I am not necessarily sure that you want to have these people telling your children how to think or what to feel. Some of the stuff that comes out of their mouths as artists is scary shit. For me that is part of the reason I attack or deal with any issue, I am always very careful not to superimpose my entire feelings on it. They are not the most important feelings. I have a voice and an outlet and I try to study these issues and dilemmas, but I am in no way trying to dictate to people how they should. I just want them to deal with them somehow.

With your public profile constantly growing, do you feel extra pressure when creating new music?

I think a lot of musicians in this era they get really weary because you could make 2 or 3 records in a year, now most guys are lucky to make one every 2 1/2 or 3 years. We have been lucky enough, if you count this double record as 2, then it is our 9th record in as many years. I think at this point my body of work speaks for itself. Anyone who has listened to my music knows that I take a lot of chances and that doesn’t mean I succeed all the time. Everytime I fail at something I can learn from it.

I try not to operate from the space of fear. That doesn’t mean you don’t have fear, everyone does. But I don’t let it dictate the music I make. It can’t come out musically as this is what I am most prepared for in life.

Has your ambition always just been played out through music?

I grew up boxing. My Grandfather was big Chief in the Black Indian tradition. I watched him as a child in front of hundreds of people, so there are different things you develop over time. Watching someone being that big and important, I learned to adjust different facets of my personality. Being in a situation where I was surrounded by some many people and having to approach those people with care and compassion. Music is what I do but it is not the medium that speaks exclusively for who I am as a person. It is probably to best known frame. There are always more layers.

You have in your career worked with so many great talents, which collaboration has taken you the most by surprise?

Thom Yorke is the one I never saw happening. I have always been such a huge Radiohead fan, ever since I was in High School. It wasn’t a very popular band for blacks in New Orleans. People were just like “what the hell is this?” So I had to fight those battles. It is interesting as it was actually quite hard to grow up having to deal with that.

I know this is a little off path, but it makes me think of all the times I had to defend these different types of music to my peers. It didn’t ever matter what type of people they were as it would even happen at Berkeley-whether it is defending Radiohead to black kids in New Orleans or Kid Ori to white kids at Berkeley-there is always something. But turning people onto something that they think they hate, I do not use that word liberally.

Somebody that I haven’t worked with that I would love to work with… This is going to sound crazy but I want to work with Rakim. Just because I am the Hip Hop generation. What he did to Hip Hop is Max Roach and Baby Dodds or Chick Webb. I don’t want to say it is jazz but his rhythms are so creative, This guy invented flow. I like artists who do something in music that no one has done before, but they don’t get talked about a lot. Rakim did something that changed music. I get goosebumps thinking about it. Rakim is the God MC.

“Christian aTunde Adjuah” is out now.

Interview and Photographs by Jeremy Williams

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