Clive From Accounts has had an interesting 18 months to say the least. While many producers found themselves struggling for inspiration during lockdown, Clive found it in the most unlikely of places.
Having previously released his brilliant 'Strictly Business' EP on the Brooklyn-based Razor-N-Tape earlier this year, Clive’s latest endeavour, 'Alan EP', marks the launch of his own label, Income Trax, which he describes as a home for his own eccentric ideas.
That’s particularly fitting, because things really don’t get more eccentric than 'Alan A' and 'Alan B', two tracks composed entirely from samples taken from both series of I’m Alan Partridge. Lovingly crafted into a set of thumping house anthems, they’re quite unlike anything else you’ll have heard this year.
While 'Alan A' sees Clive smashing together everything from drawer slams, air bass and cereal packets being angrily torn asunder, 'Alan B' sees him time-stretching Alan’s long-suffering PA, Lynn, into a dubby masterwork. It’s the vocal performance she was born to give.
Fascinated to know more, Paul Weedon swapped emails with Clive to try to make sense of it all.
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Hi Clive. Why Alan and why now?
In these uncertain times, what better guiding light to turn to than last-laugh-having, ex-Toblerone addict and all round master of bouncing back, Alan Gordon Partridge?
We’ve all seen Alan dancing. He seems like quite a rhythmic guy. Was it challenging to create music based on the sounds of his world?
Just slap on some Hot Chocolate and Alan can move with the best of them. I had to do him justice, so the pressure was on. It was a bit daunting, but once I managed to make a decent kick drum (car door slams at Lynn’s mum’s graveyard and Bono’s house, plus Alan slapping his bag onto the travel tavern front desk), I was off!
I sampled cheeky snippets of actual music (the air bass scene, China Crisis, Black Beauty etc.) but tried to keep that to a minimum. Getting melodic stuff from foley was tricky but lift chimes, Alan whistling and mic feedback (when storming off a country fair presenting job) worked well as instruments.
Was there a particular Alan sound that gave you the original idea and made you go, ‘Yes, this is a thing that could work’?
It all started with the lap dance scenes from series one. That unperishable vulcanised rubber thong was very much ground zero. To me, the organ house backing track is quintessential Alan and I just thought, with the whole 90’s revival going on, it’d be funny to try and slip a re-edit out there and have some unwitting Andrew Lloyd Webber-esque DJ play it.
Combine that with a healthy dose of lockdown madness and It massively snowballed into months of my life, but hopefully something good DJs would want to play.
Were there any particular episodes that really lent themselves to being sampled like this?
The James Bond episode had some really useful noises. Right before Alan says “Abso-bloody-exactly” there’s a perfect finger snap, Tex’s truck horn ended up as part of the bass line, and Lynn dropping Sunny Delight onto the Bond videos became one of the snare drums.
There were good sounds everywhere though, like farmers dropping a cow on Alan, Owl sanctuary hoots, the microwave ping at the BP garage, Alan tapping his glass to make one of his terrible toasts and many more. I have an Excel spreadsheet of the samples if anyone’s interested. What am I doing with my life?
From a technical point of view, how does this all work? Do you watch an episode and take notes on things you think will work, or do you just capture the whole thing and pick out soundbites?
I think a lot of this was just me wanting an excuse to watch Partridge for the thousandth time. Yes, I basically took notes and sampled as I went. It’s a weird way to watch something. By the end, I was a half-crazed sound effects digging savant, cursing the audience for ruining all my glorious loot with their hollow laughter. Fools!
Lynn makes a vocal appearance on Alan B. I think she’d be quite flattered about that. Were there any other characters you tried to sample that didn’t quite cut it?
To try and not make the tunes too ridiculous I had a no-vocals policy but jungle time-stretched Lynn was too good not to use. Plus it’s nice to give her some of the limelight for once. Not to be outdone, Michael’s weird ‘shooting his friend with a helicopter’ story sound effects are in there somewhere too. I also snuck a ‘Dan!’ locked groove onto the vinyl.
What, if anything, did you learn about Alan from doing this? Not sure I learned anything new about Alan. I certainly learnt I’m a pretty weird person though.
What do you think Alan would make of all this?
I’m sure he’d find a way to turn it into a program, or probably sue me come to think of it - please don’t, Steve. The whole project has been a real labour of love, so I’d be overjoyed if Coogan, Iannucci, Baynham or any of the cast and crew got wind of this. Hopefully they’d enjoy it and not take a restraining order out against me.
Oh god. I’m the real life Jed Maxwell, aren’t I?
Now that you’ve remixed Alan, is there anyone else from British television that you think could make for an interesting project like this?
I don’t think I’d get a second series, but If there’s another lockdown who knows? Brass Eye and The Thick of It are also massive favourites.
Peep Show’s up there too, but I think sampling nine series worth of material would be the end of me.
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Words: Paul Weedon // @Twotafkap
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