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Friday, May 30, 2008
Whether it's Bjork honing her vocal chops on the cliffs of Iceland or the Belleville Three birthing techno in the mean streets of 1980s Detroit, there's a certain romance to seeing music in terms of the environment in which it was created. So when Nathan Fake released his debut album "Drowning in a Sea of Love" in 2006, many linked its blissed-out brand of electronica to the young producer's origins in the rural depths of Norfolk, England.
Now living in London, Fake (his real name) doesn't buy the argument. "I guess it's quite nice to think that someone who lives in the countryside will make pretty, organic-sounding music and then someone who lives in the city will make drum & bass," he says over the phone from his home. "But I don't think it really works like that. A lot of people who I went to school with back in Norfolk were listening to hard house."
Fake won't deny, however, that being far from the center of the action affected his musical development. When his teenage ears picked up on 1990s electronica acts like Orbital and Aphex Twin, he struggled to find people with the same enthusiasm.
"There wasn't really anyone else who I knew who was making music or who was even really into that kind of music," he says. "So I've kind of done everything on my own."
Without any formal training to rely on, Fake bought a drum machine at the age of 15 and began experimenting. Over time, he developed a signature style where even the more propulsive beats were offset by hazy synthesizer lines that wouldn't sound out of place on a record by electronic duo Boards of Canada.
In either a stroke of good fortune or a mark of real talent, he hit paydirt with the first demo he sent to a label. That was to musician and DJ James Holden, who released the then 20-year- old Fake's debut single "Outhouse" on his fledgling Border Community imprint in 2003 and who has put out much of his subsequent work. Now close friends, the pair's relationship has borne other fruits, most notably Holden's epic remix of "The Sky Was Pink," which became one of 2004's biggest club anthems.
Fake's own early productions also went down well with the clubbing fraternity, but he then ditched his dancefloor leanings altogether on "Drowning in a Sea of Love," whose lush, fuzzy textures had more in common with shoegazer indie bands than superstar DJs.
He's unapologetic about that change of direction. "It was never like a departure from any kind of sound," he says. "I'd always been making that kind of stuff, but it's a bit harder to release it as a single, so I saved it for the album."
Despite living in London, Fake still maintains a certain sort of splendid isolation, working at home rather than in a studio and remaining blissfully ignorant of recent musical trends. He cites Animal Collective and Black Dice as bands he's enjoyed recently — a good five years after everyone else got into them — but struggles to name any others.
"I'm not really that into listening to loads and loads of music," he admits. "I don't DJ and I don't really know where to find new music, so I just end up making my own."
Whether they were sculpted by nature or nurture, Fake's tunes should go down a treat when he plays next month at Taico Club, an all-night party held in the mountains of Nagano Prefecture. Fast becoming one of the highlights of the summer music festival calendar, this good-natured event also boasts one of the most picturesque locations. Fake appeared at the first one in 2006 and still looks back fondly on the experience. "I've done a few outdoor things before, but that's probably been the most fantastical," he says.
He'll be appearing with label mates James Holden and Petter on a diverse bill ranging from techno pioneer DBX to noise rockers Afrirampo, via psychedelic drum tribalists Vooredoms, electronica prankster Luke Vibert and Tokyo club doyens Takkyu Ishino and Fumiya Tanaka.
Taico Club is held at Kodama no Mori, Kiso-mura, Nagano Prefecture, on June 7. Gates open at 1 p.m.; music from 2 p.m. Tickets: ¥10,500 (must be purchased in advance). www.taicoclub.com Nathan Fake, James Holden and Petter also appear June 12 at Precious Hall, Sapporo ( 513-2221, ¥3,500 advance), June 13 at Club JB's, Nagoya ( 241-2234, ¥3,000 advance) and June 14 at Triangle, Osaka ( 6212-2264, ¥4,000 advance). All start from 10 p.m.