Broadway Project: Interview
Meditation And The Joys Of Being Insulted
Half a decade ago, Dan Berridge was just a guy with a sampler trying to cope
with ME/chronic fatigue syndrome. With the Gilles Pederson set, various
festivals, The Vessel receiving a US release, and new album In Finite set
to be released on Grand Central all happening like now-ish, 2005 is shaping up
to be the year Dan Berridge's Broadway Project becomes a full out experience and
resurrects the spirit of trip-hop left behind in the wake of Portishead's
constant delay. Yet he managed to take time out of his increasingly busier to
talk to us.
With so much new stuff happening for you this year, do you find you're busier
now than ever or has this come as a part of the natural progression time seems
to have of speeding up the older you get?
I made a conscious decision about 18 months ago to get things going.
Previously I just produced my music and that was it. Now I've got numerous
different projects going on. So yes, I am busy, but it's on my own terms. Time
does speed up the older you get. I remember being a kid and watching the second
hand on a clock, and noticing how much space there was between each click.
People still think I'm in my twenties which makes me laugh. Hang on. Are you
saying I'm old?
Never, I'm getting the same thing. I know you didn't get into the production
side of music till your late twenties. Who or what artists influenced you to
make the leap from consumer to producer (even if they had no noticeable effect
on what the Broadway Project became)?
I guess hip-hop in general made me start producing. Putting together loops and
breaks. But I found really quickly that a looped beat bored the fuck out of me,
no matter how good, so I just kept adding more and more mad sounds and samples
and then chipped away at a song. I guess like a lot of people, the early DJ
Shadow stuff sparked me off, not so much in the sound, but in the way it was
You do have a unique sound throughout your works. How did you come to it? Did
you imagine it first and then tried to recreate it or was it a case of
experimentation and determination?
I thought then that sampling allowed the possibly for completely new sound that
would be impossible to re-create. For example, If you take one sound or phrase
as the foundation and add another that may be in a different time signature or
key, and you force that sound to work within that foundation (using sampling
techniques), you get something that could not possibly be played, as it doesn't
conform to any known western musical theory. If it works, that's the key. This
was the plan initially and I still believe in it. However, now I use many other
techniques (like granular synthesis) to work the samples still further. I also
bring in musicians to re-play those worked samples, which brings in further
Where'd the name Broadway Project come from? If there's no story, could you make
one up possibly involving tigers?
The truth is that I was living in Tooting Broadway in London when I first sent
out demos (thinking no-one will release this crazy shit) and it stuck.
Have you ever enjoyed recreational drugs? If so, what effect have they had on
A bit. Rather unsuccessfully. Absolutely no effect on my music, if anything it
would detract. I have been told a number of times that my music sounds great on
mushrooms. But then I guess anything does.
I saw your Bill Hicks link, of whom I am also a huge fan. How did you find out
about him and what does he mean to you now? Do you plan on joining the Artists
Who Sampled Bill Hicks club at any point?
No, I won't be doing anything as obvious as that. I discovered him in 2000. He
was obviously a genius. Died the same age as I am now. He actually means a lot
to me (without wanting to sound too gay) and I like to check in on his tapes
from time to time for a bit of re-assuring sanity.
Sanity, that's wicked. I've noticed your music has a distinct spiritual quality
though not necessarily religious specifically "I Believe In Superman." Do you
have a strong sense of spirituality or karma? Do you meditate?
Yes, I have a strong sense of spirituality. It's pretty much ploughed into
creativity at the moment, but there is a phase 3 of my life that's waiting to
start. I love meditation and have studied it, but again, I get a great release
doing music for a living, so I'm lucky and lazy in equal measure. How strange
Are you calling me strange? Touché. It was about a year and a half between the
UK release of The Vessel and the North American version. How did that come
about, where did those new tracks come from, and why did it take so long?
It took so long because nobody gives a shit (lol)! I think Doubling Cube had
been planning to put it out, but things took time to happen. When it did, we
decided to finish the tracklisting as it should have been (the UK version was a
bit rushed and not definitive). So the North American version is the "correct"
version of The Vessel. And now you have the possibility of another album within
The US version was also remastered. I've noticed this as being somewhat of a
trend like how they remastered Incubus' S.C.I.E.N.C.E. four years after it's
release while recording technology hasn't really improved that much in that
time. So, do you think people are going a little overboard with the whole
constant remastering thing, is it really necessary, or what?
They might be, but we had to do it because of the new tracks.
How does In Finite stack up against your first two albums? Are you sick of
people asking about it yet?
Difficult to tell yet. It always takes time to let them live a little. I think
now that In Finite is more the album that my mates and I would choose to listen
to over the two. In Finite was thoroughly conceived and thought through and is a
heavy piece of work. I know that much.
What books or authors are you digging these days?
All sorts of random stuff like Vonnegut, Borges, Orwell. There's no correlation
to speak of. I've mentioned before in interviews that The Screwtape letters by
T.S. Elliot fascinated me in that it was an exchange between the devil and an
apprentice…revealed numerous "wolf in sheep's clothing" techniques that I can
now watch out for.
What about magazines? Do you follow your own press (I know one of the things
that first drew me to the UK version of The Vessel, having not heard of you
before that, was the sticker of review snippets on the cover)?
Well, I'm from Bristol. It's all too easy, isn't it? The thing about reviews is
that you can't eat them.
Although the tone of your music is somewhat depressing, there's always a glint
of hope to each track. Does this accurately reflect your thoughts on the state
of the world today? Is there hope for capitalism?
In my book, good and bad things are done in the name of religion, nationalism,
capitalism or whatever else. It's the way we perceive life and the resulting
decisions we make that are messed up, not necessarily the circumstances that we
live in. I don't see my music as being depressing, just dramatic. But cheers for
pointing that out.
Somebody's got to do it, I suppose. Any plans for a North American tour? What do
you know about Canada?
Big place near America. (joke. you set 'em up, I'll knock 'em in). We will
hopefully get over in the winter when In Finite comes out.
*The Vessel is available now from Doubling Cube but you've got a few months
wait till In Finite. Check
www.broadwayproject.co.uk for more details.