After-dark inquiry: DJ Harvey

The dance-music iconoclast fetes the release of his aurally adventurous LP, Locussolus, by playing All Night Rong at Santos Party House on Saturday 4.

Hi, Harvey!

Hello! Sorry if I'm a bit distracted at the moment. I've got a Chihuahua and pit bull vying for what's left of my meal.

A Chihuahua and pit bull? I hope the pit bull doesn't decide to eat the Chihuahua instead of your meal.

The Chihuahua is the boss, actually, which is kind of interesting. She runs the show. I'll hook them both up with some toast—there you go, guys, now get the fuck out of here.

Let's talk about your new album, Locussolus. How long have you been working on it?

I'll put it this way: I probably never want to hear any of those songs again, after having spent so many months listening to them and straightening them out. It's really great to have it out there in the world now, so that other people can enjoy them objectively and project their fantasies upon the tracks. I'll listen to it again, maybe in a couple of months.

You might have to play a few of these songs when you DJ at Santos.

I don't know...the whole idea of an album-launch party seems quite bizarre to me. But I'm really looking forward to playing there. The last time I was at Santos went so well, and I'm really looking forward to this one. I guess that this is like my little New York residency, isn't it?

We hope so! You're popularly known as a the original left-field-disco enthusiast, but some of the album is quite electronic, bordering on techno. Has that surprised many people?

No one's said anything like, "Oh, Harvey's made a bunch of techno tracks," and it wasn't my intention to make a bunch of techno tracks. But I did want to use some modern sounds—sounds that have been synthesized in the last ten years or something—and that's probably what gives the album a modern edge. And I suppose that when you use modern computer programs and processors and stuff, it's going to have a techno sort of sound. But even on the most techno-ish tracks, there's always some sort of live element.

Your career dates back to the '80s, but this is your first solo album. What took so long?

Hmm...I don't know, really! Last year, I just started feeling like I wouldn't mind putting out some dance music, and Mark from International Feel said, "Well, why not put it out on my label?" He was pretty passionate about the whole thing. My original concept was to just put out three 12-inch singles as a set, but then we started thinking, Well, that's six tracks—if I make a few more tracks and get some remixes in there, that's an album, isn't it?

There's quite a range on the album, with some downtempo, more song-oriented material—"Throwdown," for instance—mixed in with the dancier stuff.

That wasn't really by any great design. "Throwdown"...I'm not even sure how to describe that track. Britpop, maybe? When I was working on it, it started sounding the way it did completely by accident, and I kind of went with it. It was like, Well, this is silly—so let's keep doing it! Personally, I think that song is kind of close but no cigar, you know? But then again, I feel like that about a lot of my stuff.

You're quite the forceful salesman.

I will fully admit that selling myself is not really my thing.

You mentioned remixes before. You've recruited some heavy hitters to work on your tracks, with people like Andrew Weatherall, Lindstrm and Prins Thomas, Time and Space Machine, and Emperor Machine all contributing mixes.

he idea was simply to get people who would be fun and interesting to work on the tracks. We came up with like 20 names, talked to 15 of them, and ten of them couldn't do it! It worked out well, I think—we were trying to get the sound of now, whatever that is, in some respect, but not with any one single sound that you could pin down. If you're into the state of modern dance music, and if you like to go out and dance on the weekends, I think there might be something there for you somewhere on the album.

I love the vocal rant on the Weatherall remix of "Gunship." Can you tell me what that's all about?

Oh, my God, yes. It's supposed to be an inspirational drunken rant in the studio that we were just going to use for ideas to work with. But somehow, it kind of slipped into the tracks that we gave to Andy to mix with, and of course he ran with it. It's kind of entertaining, don't you think?

Yes, it is. But you're going on about "thickums" in the rant, and I'm not quite sure who or what thickums are.

It's kind of an inside joke with my crew. We have this friend who prefers chunky girls; not necessarily fat girls, but girls with a little something. And he calls them thickums. We'll be walking down the street and he'll say, "Hey, look at that thickums there." It always seems to make us giggle.