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The Orb's Squatter Mentality: 'Fucking leave me alone'

Author: Jonty Adderley
Sunday, December 16, 2001
" Squat culture is the socialist side of a society that's being eaten up by capitalism. It's about the fact that there are things out there for nothing and you should be able to take them. It's freedom of choice - if people don't fucking use the houses then just fucking move in there."

Orb-meister Alex Patterson drags hard on his hand-rolled cigarette as he reminisces about his past.

"I lived in squats from 1978 until 82, then got a flat for three years, it went wrong so I returned to squatting again. Then I moved into a flat with Youth and we formed a label. I had that squat mentality and I still have it now, which is basically the attitude of 'fucking leave me alone'."

Skrufff: The Guardian, NME and Q all slagged off your new album Cydonia, what's your usual reaction when you come across criticism-

The Orb (Alex Patterson): "It's cool. The perfect scenario is when you get a reaction where somebody hates it and someone else really likes it, because that means you're creating an effect. It doesn't matter if it's bad, at least it's not like 5 out of ten- that's pooh (shit). Pooh is better than 5 out of 10 as well. When people read acidic reviews they may well want to go and find out if they're true"

Skrufff: What inspired Cydonia-

The Orb: "In essence it could be the missing album from the trilogy of UFOrb and Ultraworld, it's more like Ultraworld in my opinion, because of the range of people that have worked on it. That's an area I want to develop further, and become more experimental with again, progressing from the fact that we have done records like 'Pomme Fritz'. But then, Cydonia is not Pomme Fritz, it's a new Orb album."

Skrufff: Has it got any easier over the years to make your music-

The Orb: "I don't often say it but I can actually play keyboards. It's one of my ways of putting myself down to say that I can't do anything in the studio except playing samples and doing a bit of mixing and to a certain extent that's what I do. But I do know what each button does, which is highly important if you've got your own studio geared up to different sound effects. Also, the DJ effects that have come out in the last 5 years have revolutionised DJ artistry. If you can be arsed to get a Fedex, a machine called a Federation X, I think you should. It's got a gear stick and four different effects on it that are amazing. We've also gone back to a dub style on Cydonia, which has been refreshing. The Orb has always been about taking that albatross and turning that albatross's 'clackering" into a little drum loop."

Skrufff: You DJed in '89 in the back room at Paul Oakenfold's seminal acid house club Rage (which ran at Heaven on Mondays), how conscious were you back then of how much the whole scene would grow-

The Orb: "Semi-conscious, if you were around in that time you just went with it and rode the wave. I don't think I became really conscious until around 1995, when the shit hit the fan with litigation."

Skrufff: I was surprised to see that you're mates with Robbie Williams..

The Orb: "He's a really sound geezer (good guy), he made me feel like I was in Take That for a couple of days. We did a couple of interviews that were never used because we were too stoned…. Well, I was too stoned, anyway. We recorded an old Bee Gees song together 'I Started a Joke'. I was DJing recently at a club and had the Bee Gees track in my box, so I bunged it on. Robbie came running over, shouting 'I ain't got a copy of this', which made my girlfriend happy because she got to meet Robbie Williams. He's as genuine as he can be in the circumstances he's in. He's sound."

Skrufff: What have been some of the more rock & roll situations you've encountered over the years-

The Orb: "I don't remember the name of the hip hop band, but we once did this festival in Los Angeles in Bear Mountain and for a weekend I decided I'd be a woman, so I plaited my hair, got myself a dress and a pair of girl's knickers and went on stage t