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flag Scotland - Full Moon 73 - 09/21/02

- an interview with Stuart David

"Just the most recent Looper record" - Stuart David answers our questions

Looper started its life as a Belle And Sebastian side project when Stuart David and his wife Karn were looking for an alternative outlet of their creative powers. Since then, the band has become their full time interest and their third album The Snare is not only their most accomplished yet, it's also the first to be released on the legendary Mute Records label. Recently, Stuart took the time to answer Luna Kafé's questions.

Luna Kafé: What are the main differences between Looper in 2002 and, say, 1999?
Stuart: "It's a lot less hectic than in 1999. Then we were doing things like touring America and working constantly on promotion, now we are getting more time to work on music. Also in 1999, I'd just about had enough of making music on computers and was getting ready to move onto hardware; this month I've been looking back at computers again, and I'm amazed by the changes in what's possible just in that short amount of time."

Luna Kafé: I guess the new album is yet another departure in sound and approach. Was that sort of a masterplan from the start or did it just turn out that way?
Stuart: "I think I originally started out working in the way I'd made the first two records, and then it just slowly grew away from that, until it became a masterplan to reach for this new sound."

Luna Kafé: Is there anything in particular that inspires these changes (events in your life, people you've met or maybe just new records you listened to or new equipment you bought?)
Stuart: "No-one thing in particular. I think what makes it seem like such a big change is simply the scales we ended up using. It has a lot of eastern-European and russian-type scales, and that makes it seem very different from the major keys we used on the first two albums. Then there was the conscious choice not to use any sampled loops or phrases on this record, which makes it quite different sonically."

Luna Kafé: Would it be true to say that the "getting there" during the songwriting and recording process sometimes interest you more than the actual finished piece of work?
Stuart: "I don't think so, no. It could be the case with something that I wouldn't release, but if we release something then it's only cause we think it works as a finished piece. The "getting there" is the most fun part, but taking something from there to it being a finished piece is the hardest work, and having a finished piece is what interests me."

Luna Kafé: Do you ever think about the audience while writing and recording? I suppose especially The Snare probably will puzzle a number of people who've liked your previous Looper records, let alone B&S.
Stuart: "I never assume that the next thing I do will appeal to the same people as the last thing I did. There's no reason why it should. My biggest concern is that each thing will find the audience that it itself is specifically for - and that tends not to always happen with us, because there are a lot of preconceived ideas about what we do, and about who will like what we do. And often people attempt to promote our stuff to the wrong people, based on whatever we've done before, rather than what the thing is that we're doing now."

Luna Kafé: If I would call the album something like "yesterday's sound also being (your) sound of tomorrow" would you think that's a fitting description?
Stuart: "I don't know. It has some sounds that are associated with the past on there, like the dulcimer and the vibraphones, and it has some sounds from the present time, especially in the beats. But the older sounds aren't particularly what everyone would think of if they thought of yesterday's sound. There have been a lot of yesterdays. :) And it'll only be the sound of tomorrow if enough people rip it off. :) For me, it's just the sound of the most recent Looper record."

Luna Kafé: Did the fact that your songs turned up in various movies influence your decision to move more into the direction of a darker, filmic sound in any way?
Stuart: "No. That aspect of the sound just came from wanting to create a certain mood for the album. I don't think any of these songs will particularly be used in any films. If we'd wanted to do something with the aim of it being used in other people's films it would probably have made more sense to keep making the kind of music we were making, since that was being used."

Luna Kafé: You seem to like concepts a lot - most people would probably think it's harder to work within a conceptual framework - is that different for you or do you just like the challenge?
Stuart: "To be honest with you, I don't know what the term "concept album" means. It just makes me think of prog rock records that I've read about and never heard. There is no concept behind this record- there's no lyrical narrative linking any of the songs together or anything. I think the only thing the songs have in common with each other is that they use similar scales, and a limited pallette of instruments. But that's no different from The Strokes album. No-one calls that a concept record."

Luna Kafé: Silly last question: Any famous last words? (Anything that you definitely want to see in print?)
Stuart: "That is quite a silly last question, you're right." :)

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