Meeting A Mad Professor: Jackson Interviewed

On his Computerband and new album ‘Glow’…
Jackson And His Computerband press shot 2013

“You know when you have sex with someone, you have this incredible sex, and after you feel awkward? You feel awkward because you’re like, ‘What happened?’ So if I can have this relationship with my music, then that’s fine.”

Jackson Fourgeaud, with his fluffy crop of peroxide hair and theatrically expressive eyes, sticks out like a sore thumb among the cluster of pub tables. He gives off the air of a mad professor.

Eight years have passed since the Parisian producer, under the moniker Jackson And His Computerband (and with long brown locks), put out his debut album ‘Smash’ on Warp Records. But why play such a long waiting game?

“Everything but making the music is complicated, you know?” he explains. “The lifestyle, finding a place to stay, the workspace, the teamwork – this is what takes time, for me.”

He’s been sharing a studio complex with 11 other musicians, including Birdy Nam Nam, Sound Pellegrino and the band La Femme.

“My studio was famous for having the good vibes!” he claims. “There’s no equipment – it’s just one sound card, and then books, magazines and fruit and trash… Not like a professional studio, it’s a teenager’s room. A party room!”

This work-play environment has birthed ‘Glow’ (Clash review): Jackson’s long-awaited second album, and a much more joyful vision in comparison to its somewhat macabre, gloomy predecessor.

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‘Dead Living Things’, from the album ‘Glow’

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“I like to make fun of myself,” he reveals. “I go between major and minor aesthetics, whether it’s cheap or very deep. Or stupid… or super-emotional.”

On this LP, polyphonic and futuristic electro-funk takes centre stage, and we see the Frenchman making feverish collages of energetic sound.

“Lying is an exciting process in music,” he grins. “Most of it was faking musicians, you know. Pretending and faking people and other personalities.”

But he’s also invited real, human guests – Planningtorock, singer Mara Carlyle, and other vocalists and musicians – into his adolescent lair.

And he’s been able to piece together his Computerband as a physical, tangible body, too. For him, the idea was to be able to have fun on stage, be challenged and also be able to write music, live, in front of an audience.

“So then came this obvious thing,” he says. “Where’s my Computerband? Let’s build the Computerband; let’s have a performance tool like that that’s gonna become my instrument, that could stimulate and engage the crowd in a process where I can watch them react and make music depending on that.”

But what does this master machine, where skin meets steel, consist of, exactly?

“I have a lot of knobs. I love knobs!” is Jackson’s standardly tongue-in-cheek answer. “We’ve made really big ones. Then there are two front modules and LEDs in front that react to sound. On the side there’s a module that behaves like a jukebox player which can switch between sounds and modes that can trigger effects and sub-parts, and deals with timing.”

Armed with his computer orchestra, Jackson is hoping to reach new creative heights, which will allow his following works to evolve organically.

“I wanna really get in this zone where all the work of the record is becoming this multi-faceted, ever-growing kind of material. And surf on this in order to get to the next record, as I’m touring.”

He smiles. “That’s the fantasy.”

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‘Arp #1’, from the album ‘Glow’

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Words: Felicity Martin

This article is an edited version of a feature appearing in issue 88 of Clash magazine – find details here

‘Glow’ is out now on Warp Records and reviewed here

Find Jackson And His Computerband online here

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Stream tracks by Jackson And His Computerband via Deezer, below…

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