Here's the poop on Marcus Lambkin's alter ego.
Mon Sep 27 2010
He's been a raver in his native Dublin, a resident DJ at Centro-Fly, the toast of the East Village as coproprietor (with Dominique Keegan) of the much-missed Plant Bar and one of the DFA label's go-to spinners—but for the past five years, Marcus Lambkin has been a family man in a small town outside of Stuttgart, Germany. "It's not even a town, it's a village," Lambkin says over the phone. "Seven hundred people. It's called Riet, spelled R-E-I...no, R-I-E-T. I still have to think about it!"
Lambkin can be forgiven for blanking on how to spell his burg's name, as he's got bigger things to think about: After a run of great singles on DFA under the Shit Robot banner (more on that moniker later), he's finally released his debut album, From the Cradle to the Rave. As anyone who's heard those jacking singles could predict, it's an expertly constructed collection, evoking the abandon of early Chicago house but remaining utterly of the moment. (The array of vocalists—the Juan MacLean's Nancy Whang, Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor and Ian Svenonius from posthardcore band Nation of Ulysses among them—adds to the wow factor.) "Like any DJ, I just wanted to make singles for other DJs, really." Lambkin says. "It was only after I signed the contract with DFA that I noticed that the contract said I had to make an album. I was like, Uh-oh—an album? But after I had accumulated a pile of tracks on my computer, in various stages of completion, I went through them and tried to figure out which ones were at all usable."
Sounds like an easy process, until you think about how these tracks resonate with an amazingly wide swathe of clubland; everyone from house heads and techno purists to indie kids and the general partying public can get down to the Shit Robot sound. Lambkin credits that feat to DFA/LCD Soundsystem honcho and Shit Robot producer James Murphy. "My mixes are, frankly, not that good, but everything goes through the James Murphy filter, and he can just nail that DFA sound every time; he has such a great ear, and just knows immediately which directions songs should go in."
So, what about that name? "I also have James to thank for that, as I do for so many things," Lambkin says. "Back in the day, I was deejaying around the East Village, and no matter how great or not great the gig was, I was always very serious about it and would always make sure all my mixes were perfect. James knew about my old raver background and used to make fun of it, and he used to threaten to put on white raver gloves, come into the booth while I'm mixing and doing a shit robot dance just to kind of mess me up. We realized that it was a great name and just kind of stuck with it, later using it as the name of our night at Plant Bar. Then years later, after I made [debut single] 'Wrong Galaxy' and was about to go on tour with LCD Soundsystem and the Juan MacLean as tour DJ, I got a call from James: 'Hey, I'm doin' the posters for the tour! Are you gonna be Marcus Lambkin—or are you gonna be Shit Robot?' And I didn't want to be a wuss...."
From the Cradle to the Rave (DFA) is out now.