"Look Away" ft. Caroline Polachek
"This is a track that features Caroline Polachek of Chairlift and I suppose it's where the album started. Initially, my concept was basically to dream up a list of people I wanted to work with, and then start emailing them and seeing if I could do a session, or fly them somewhere to work together. I really wanted to build things up and create a record. Doing live touring for three years, which I got to do with Sampha, we just jammed stuff out every night and day. We were literally just pissing about on instruments and making tunes up and playing in a really free-form way.
We were literally just pissing about on instruments and making tunes up and playing in a really free-form way.
"Before that, I had been working with laptops and it just became so structured and too... Everything was too boxed-in, in grids, and it didn't really leave space to have more expression in the ideas. I wanted to take everyone to an environment where you could just jam ideas out and see what happened. So, I found this obscure place off the coast of England, off the county Essex, which, if you know England, you know is where a certain type of weird person comes from. Anyway, there is a tidal island that you can only get to four hours out of each day by a road, and then the water floods it.
"There's a weird film with Daniel Radcliffe from Harry Potter, it's a horror movie, and it was all filmed on this island. So it's a bit strange because that kind of set the tone of the trip. I had a DJ gig the night before in Norway and we flew back to Heathrow and this tidal road was only open from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. We ended up driving across this ocean road in the pitch black, and the lights had gone on the bloody van we hired. So we're crawling along in the pitch black, using iPhone lights to try and light the road across the sea—it was a bit random.
We ended up driving across this ocean road in the pitch black, and the lights had gone on the bloody van we hired. So we're crawling along in the pitch black, using iPhone lights to try and light the road across the sea.
"That was the first experience of getting there, and then we had Sampha and another guy from the label called Tic in the back of transit, coming through shouting obscenities, because they just kept bouncing around. It was a funny place to go to, it was totally out of anyone's comfort zone. On the island there's a house, it was dressed up as a studio but it was really a glorified garden shed, it was just a very tiny room, but it had giant open doors and a field out the front. We brought a bunch of keyboards, drum kits, synths, and everything else, and about five microphones and set them up so we could just record all day long, and there would be no stops and starts. Then we could just see what came out of sessions, in a much more free-form way then, say, starting by programming a beat and going from there.
"This track came out of that. It's called 'Look Away' and it features Caroline. She flew in from New York but missed her flight, which then meant that she missed the tidal road, which meant, basically, that we were on the island and could see them standing on the other side two miles away. They were about to drive across the road, and then suddenly this flash of water comes whooshing across it and we realized that she's totally stuck on the other side for another eight hours. The guy on the island told her she should go into a pub across the road and find a guy smoking a pipe—seriously—with a hat on in the corner. Then, and this just sounds like such a movie stereotype, but it was a fisherman who had a boat. He brought her over on this little tiny fishing boat. She turned up to the island with her suitcase from New York on the back of this one person fishing boat!
"So that was her first experience of it but then this track came out of that night. It's a funny experience, some people are very much about jamming music, some people want to hide away in a studio. Because I work with so many collaborators I see these people all working different ways. Some people like to go away and write their lyrics on their own, they can't work in front of you, but this track was made very much jamming in the middle of a room in the dark."