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Inside The Digital Puppetry of The Gorillaz (Interview)

Secrecy is everything when you talk about the Gorillaz, choosing to appear only in avatar form if ever they appear at all. Conceived in the late 90s with an array of new wave spits, the animation experts have dropped their new album Humanz, featuring an epic line-up from Grace Jones, Mavis Staples, Danny Brown, De La Soul, Pusha T, Kali Uchis, Kelela, and a s*** tonne more. Moving their 2D riders toward a more 3D focussed realm, we caught up with the digital collective to flesh out the dark side toward their anonymity.

 

In 2001 you were possessed by Del The Funky Homosapien, has this changed your appreciation of rap music?

Russel: Listen up, getting possessed ain’t no sing song. Digging rap is one thing, being used as an inter-dimensional glove puppet is something else. That being said, Del was a perfect gentleman. Treated me right. Wiped his shoes and everything.

 

Who would you possess when the time comes?

Russel: No way I’d wish that on anyone. It’s damn uncivilised, filling me up, spurting through my veins, then gushing out of me like some kind of hip-hop enema I never asked for. Besides, I’m planning on living for a real long time. One of the perks that goes with being Gorillaz.

 

 

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Gorillaz as a live act have gone through several incarnations, from members of the Tom Tom Club and The Clash to Bobby Womack and The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble… what is your dream live livn-up for Humanz?

Russel: Dead or alive, right? Me on rhythm (of course), Everlyn Glennie on drums. Blackbird McKnight or Wah Wah Watson on guitar, that cat Mozart on synth. Then just a bunch of dancing cats. Mmm, yeah.

 

The last Gorillaz album “The Fall” was apparently made with an iPad… how did that make you feel to be essentially replaced by a tablet? Or are you on good terms with the iPad?

Russel: Humans replaced by machines? That’s our new digital reality, better get wise to it. Doesn’t mean you have to dig it though, and I don’t. We’re in transition, humanity 2.0 is on the horizon, and the view ain’t good from where I’m standing so I’m prepping for the worst. Got any spare canned food?

 

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Have you ever considered starting an epic rivalry with another band? Seemed to work well for the Beatles and The Rolling Stones, as well as Blur and Oasis. We are thinking maybe another ape themed band… essentially what do you think about starting to talk trash on the Arctic Monkeys?

Russel: Nah, I don’t abide conflict between simian-named bands. The animal kingdom’s got enough on its plate as it is. Gonna spread the love instead. I recently discovered this British rock band from the 70s called Orangutan. Got a neat song called Chocolate Piano. Check it out.

 

 

Also Russel, you’ve obviously got good taste. Can you recommend two tracks you’re digging on Soundcloud at the moment?

Russel: Why, thank you. For something deep enough to drown in, try the incredible Apollo Noir’s Remix  of Arca’s Piel. Watch that Apollo Nior kid he darker than the other side of the moon and colder than the other side of your pillow. Silly dope but way out like further than the moon and back, feel me? If you’re having that existential Simone De Beauvoir moment then nothings better than Ivy Sole and a Track called “Life -feat Dave B”. Very life affirming that joint , reminds me of Lauren Hill back in the day

 

 

 

Finally, you performed your last show as Gorillaz in Auckland, New Zealand at the end of 2010. Now we were at that show and really enjoyed seeing the last Gorillaz show ever. While we’re obviously over the moon that you’re back can you promise that you will at least be visiting New Zealand if not ending the tour there?

Russel: Never mind jus’ end the tour there, I plan to end my days there. You got a beautiful country far away on the bottom of the world. Plus, if any bad shit goes down between America and wherever, or the machines rise up against us, you cats can sit tight, eat some fairy bread, and wait for it all to blow over.

 

Conversation with Dylan Cherry – STREAM the new album from Gorillaz above.