Mind is the mental health charity I work for in the UK. There is still an incredible amount of stigma surrounding mental health issues and at Mind we make people aware that it can happen to any one of us, at any time.
Roland V Synth
My secret weapon when it comes to sound design. Cutting edge sample based synthesis that sounds like nothing else and is not often seen. Roland, if you're listening, can I have the GT please?!
Robert Wyatt's incredible album from 1974. Full of magic and mystery and wonderful musicianship. Probably my favourite album.
The Native American rites of passage. I did this over 10 years ago now, and it was a life changing experience. Fasting and going back to nature - something so simple and yet so powerful...
The World's Most Awkward Taxidermy
On working with Neneh Cherry
We met Neneh through our record label, Smalltown Supersound, who released The Cherry Thing (Neneh Cherry and the Thing collaborative album) last year. Our first meeting was back in December on a rooftop in East London, sitting around an open fire. It was evident from the start that we had a connection and it wasn't long before we were in a rehearsal room in northeast London preparing for our first gig. That first gig was the Gilles Peterson Worldwide Awards. Two rehearsals and there we were, playing to 2000 people. Talk about in at the deep end, we were pushing ourselves, but we knew if we could do this with such little preparation then the future was bright. Since then we've played a few more shows and recorded an album over five days, which will be out later this year, and are now rehearsing for a short tour in June and July. There are some things you just never expect!
On Steve Reid and the Steve Reid Foundation
Steve Reid was a drummer from the Bronx in New York. He worked with so many great artists from the age of 16. Sun Ra, James Brown, Martha and the Vandellas, Ornette Coleman, Fela Kuti, to name a few. I met Steve after I saw him play a show in London in 2005. Funnily enough, Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet) was also in the audience, but we hadn't met at this time. I was moved enough to send Steve an email to show my appreciation which, to my delight, he replied. The next time he was in London we met up and from then I began working for him whenever he came to the UK. Steve was a man of great passion and spirit who I will never forget. After his untimely passing in 2010 after battling cancer, Radio 1 DJ Gilles Peterson founded a charity in Steve's name. The Steve Reid Foundation was set up as a means to raise money for musicians who find themselves in difficult times and also to educate and promote emerging talent. You can find out more by visiting the Steve Reid Foundation.
On RocketNumberNine and MeYouWeYou
RocketNumberNine, or Rn9 when we're too lazy to type, played our first show by chance in February 2005. My brother was about to play his first solo electronic show but in the days before asked me to join him. That was the start of Rn9. Back then, we were improvising our shows, exploring and searching our sound. Ben is coming from a more electronic and dance background, sculpting and crafting these otherworldly sounds. My tastes are more far and wide, taking in influences from pop, rock, free jazz, folk, noise, dance, etc. Everything, basically. It's these two sides of Rn9 that make our sound, on the one hand unique, but on the other I like to think it's universal and accessible to any ears. After five years of improv, we changed our tune and began reining things in and adding some structure and form to our work. MeYouWeYou is the result of this change in our approach. Various setbacks have meant this album has been a long time coming, but we're very excited to finally get it out there.
On rhythm and the origins of percussion
There's no life without rhythm, but there was rhythm before life. To me that makes rhythm one of the fundamental elements of the universe. Look around you and it's everywhere, externally and internally. From the movement of the planets to the beating of a heart, the sound of nature to the beat of a drum, each rhythm connects to the next, building the bigger picture, the rhythm of the universe of which we are all a part. Some of these are harder to recognize than others -- perhaps because one rhythms cycle is so long and seemingly chaotic or perhaps because the rhythm is so minute -- but the patterns are there. From the beginnings of our time, humans have integrated rhythm into their lives through work, play and ceremonial rituals. Speech, song and dance are all rooted in rhythm. As soon as we could slap a hand against our skin, stamp a foot or bang together two objects such as bones, we were hooked. Next time you find a moment amongst the busy daily rhythms, take a moment to break it down and see what's going on around you. As Steve Reid used to say: Stay in the rhythms!
My Morning Smoothie
Take some blueberries and strawberries (or any combination of berries you like), and one banana
Pop them in a jug or blender
Add five or six almonds
A palmful of oats
Some ground flax seed
A splurge of honey
Then either plain yogurt or soya milk.
Whizz it up and drink it
OK, it's not rocket science, but it tastes pretty good and it's healthy!