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Ed Chemical: Dance Music Doesn't Need Saving

Author: Jonty Skrufff
Saturday, January 22, 2005
"Dance culture's like it's always been: the most interesting parts are when DJs or musicians can take different things from different places and splice them together; people like Erol Alkan and Queens of Noise. I've never been particularly interested in a night of linear house music, although I do occasionally dip in and out of that."

Sitting in his West London local, chomping a sausage sandwich, Ed Chemical admits he's enthused by the mix and mash style of music that's currently rewiring London's clubland.

"The more interesting times always happen when all the different things are going on in the same night; Not in a "we're mad, eclectic, throw anything down anyhow way', but put together in a way that when it works it works," he continues.

"When you hear Erol play, he can really put it together well as can someone like Ewan Pearson or Ivan Smagghe. Quite a few of the old guard- people like X Press 2, have been around for quite a while have also got such a fresh take on music. I don't find that dance music is in need of saving or there needs to be a new thing happening because if you go out, people will just amaze you with the sets they're doing," he says.

He admits his particular irritation with "dance music is dead' journalists today has been sparked by an unusually personal nasty review in rock weekly NME, though he's experienced enough to be irritated rather than angry.

"I'd be lying to say it's water off a duck's back, that review infuriated me initially, but in another way it's quite gratifying; that we're still here and we're still annoying people," he chuckles.

"We were shot down and it was vicious, sure, but there's no way we're going to let one bad review set our agenda. I thought it was small minded and pretty pathetic really, but it's just one person's opinion."

"But having said that, there are times when you sound so self obsessed going on about this; there are bigger things happening in the world and it's just a record. Sure, we made it; we're bound to feel it's great but we've been doing interviews for the last month and everyone's opening gambit has been "this is your best record'. The bottom line is, we love our record and we hope people get something out of it too."

The record he's referring to is Push The Button, the Chemicals' 5th studio album, which sees the duo embracing a significantly more hip hop tinged direction, topped off (more often than not) with their trademark block rocking beats. A definite return to form, the album is certain to delight their worldwide fanbase while opening single Galvanise has already crossed over to the dance floors of London clubs like Nag Nag Nag and Wasted Youth.

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): Push The Button is your fifth album, after what's been a tumultuous few years for dance music, how easy was it to get started-

Ed Chemical: "We had a big splurge of ideas after we came back off tour, in fact, it's never particularly hard for us to just get things working together, the hard part comes with reduction and finding out how we are going to present these ideas. Finding pieces of music and writing the initial framework of the music comes easily and pretty quickly to us; the hard part is the two years of trying to present the ideas in the right way and finding the vocalists and finding little vocal samples. Tom sits down and picks up his guitar for a lot of music on this record, he starts with a little melody or something that works.

But the songs come in so many different ways, there's no distinct way a Chemical Brothers track starts, but I think the main difference for this record is that the studio is now outside London which means we're much more focused when we're working. We had a period of eight years together, writing music in the same room down in Elephant and Castle and now we travel down to Tom's new space in Sussex. It's freshened it all up really. I think by the very nature of a fifth record you have to make a very big decision to a