This Sunday at Le Bain, Nouveau York presents Prince Language and Tyler Pope, the bass player of LCD Soundsystem and Chk Chk Chk (!!!) - probably two of the best indie dance bands of their time. Tyler has been DJing since he moved to New York in 2001. Now based in Berlin, he sat down with Prince Language for a Standard back-to-back.
Tyler Pope by Ruvan Wijesooriya
Prince Language: I was thinking really hard about this, and I honestly can’t remember where we first met. I think it was maybe at one of the No Ordinary Monkey parties down in Wall Street back in the day? Anyway, I don’t think it was very formal circumstances, so perhaps you can give us a proper introduction to yourself?
Tyler Pope: I’m not totally sure when we met either, or if we even did. It almost felt like we didn’t actually meet but just saw each other around at parties and stuff so much and then just started hanging out like we had met at some point. But anyway I’m Tyler Pope, and play the bass guitar and percussion, rhythm guitar, and am a DJ.
When did you first start playing music, and how did !!! come together?
I’ve been playing guitar since I was 10 or 11, and moved to bass guitar when I got into Primus and Infectious Grooves and stuff like that. And that ties into how !!! came together too because all of us, all of the eight original members were all at the same Primus show in Sacramento like five or six years before the band started.
And how did you get into DJing?
That’s another thing that just kind of happened. I don’t know when I actually became a DJ because I’ve just always been into collecting records. I guess I learned how to mix when I moved to New York in 2001. I bought the Funk Master Flex beginning DJ set from Guitar Center and learned that way. It’s actually impossible to mix on those things, so it was a good way to learn because when you eventually got Technics 1200s it seemed so easy.
!!! (Chk Chk Chk) Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass
How has what you play changed over the years?
What I play has totally changed. Learning about house music, and dance music in general, it took me a while to understand what exactly I really liked. I was super open in the beginning, that being after I heard Daft Punk’s Homework in ‘96 or whenever that came out. But going into any dance music shop there’s so much stuff, and it took a while for me to understand it and know what I really liked.
What do you prefer about DJing as opposed to playing in bands?
Um, pretty much everything except the actual playing music part - playing music and creating music with people is something that DJing can’t really compare to. For DJing there is a word in German called absahnnen, which means taking the icing on the cake and I feel like its a good description for DJing. No disrespect to DJing of course, but it is what it is. But you can’t deny there are amazing DJs and some who are just doing it to get the cash and prizes.
You’ve played with !!!, Outhud, LCD Soundsystem, and The Crystal Ark, to name a just few of the bands you have been involved with. Can you tell me your favorite out of all them? Quick, choose a favorite child!
Um, ah, um…I guess I would say I love them all the same (laughing). No but really, !!! and Out Hud are closer to my heart since I was much bigger part in the creative process with them.
Out Hud It’s For You
!!! and LCD have been perhaps the most successful bands of the last decade in terms of integrating elements of dance music into a rock band context. So that’s not really a question, but any thoughts on that?
Yeah I guess so, maybe I had something to do with it?
I have discussed this with James Murphy before, and we both agree that you and Andrew Raposo (of Midnight Magic, Jessica 6, Hercules & Love Affair) are the best bass players in the world right now. How does being an awesome musician affect the way you DJ?
Hey thanks man, that’s really nice of you guys to say that, but I think that just goes to show that people who have good taste and play an instrument well are getting harder and harder to find. I imagine it will get less and less too. As far as DJing I don’t think it makes a huge difference being a musician, but lots of times I surprise myself with two records that I play one after the other being in the same key. That might be an intuitive thing that I’ve got from playing music for so long.
You’ve lived in Berlin for the past few years now - how has that city influenced you as a musician, DJ, and person? And what do you miss about New York, if anything?
Totally, it has influenced me in all those ways. It feels a lot more human and healthy for me than New York ever was - it was hard for me to stop and think about what was going on with myself and everyone around me when I was here. I was also smoking tons of weed which didn’t really help, but I think New York does that to a lot of people. As far as being a DJ, I love living in Berlin because I you have more access to new releases. I still love going into record shops, and there’s not that many stores in New York that carry lots of new releases on vinyl. There’s amazing stores selling older stuff, but I’m much into newer music - I have so many dope disco records from the 10 years I lived in NY, I still only play a handful of them when I dj. But somehow I’ve found New York DJs to be better DJs. I think it’s because you can get away with playing any old boring-ass stuff in Berlin as long as everyone is fucked up enough. It makes DJs work less hard to find really good records.
Shut Up and Play the Hits’ Trailer
What was it like playing the final LCD Soundsystem show at Madison Square Garden?
It was a straight up marathon! That week was crazy, I’ve never played so much on stage in my life. It was four shows at terminal 5 that were all almost 4 hours long, and then Madison Square that was 4 hours long. I was so into that, I wish I could do weeks like that more often. I still don’t know how [drummer] Pat [Mahoney] made it and was still killing it the whole time, it was amazing.
What have you been up to since then? You played me some pretty cool sounding music of your own in Berlin the other month…
Since LCD I’ve just been working on some music with Mario the guitar player from !!! and different singers, like Naeem from Spank Rock, and Eric D. Clark. I’ve been having so much fun just messing around with these songs, writing with just one or two other people. While it’s fun and all to have so many bros in a band like in !!!, I’m really liking doing things creatively with one or two other people. It keeps things simpler in the writing process for sure.
What are some of your favorite records and artists at the moment? And what can we expect to hear from you Sunday at Nouveau York?
I actually made a DJ mix for the night so you can get an idea of what my dj set will be like on Sunday. Right now one producer I always end up playing out when I dj is Robert Hood. I’ve always been a fan of his earlier productions, but I think lately he is totally killing it. Other than that I get records by a lot of different producers lately, whatever is good that comes through Hardwax I pick up.
LCD Soundsystem 45:33 (Prince Language remix)
OK, for the final one I thought it might be fun to turn the tables. Got a question for me?
You played me that set from the last night at [legendary 1980’s NYC gay club] The Saint by Jim Burgess that you really liked, why that mix in particular? Sorry if that’s too geeky…
Never too geeky! You’re talking about this mix - which for me really starts at the 1hour30minute mark with Diana Ross doing Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, ‘cause the first copy of the mix I ever heard starts there. It’s pretty much the epitome of what was called sleaze or morning music - slower records played after 4 or 5am to let the dancers down easy. Firstly, the records are all just so beautiful and emotionally upfront. Every song takes on such a poignancy and special meaning when you realize that this was the very last night - really morning - of this amazing club. He’s playing such a diverse group of records - everything from Stevie Wonder to Cliff Richard and Toto and the Doobie Brothers - soul, disco, rock, gay club classics, and traditionally “white” records, and they make such perfect sense together. And the sequencing and mixing is just so flawless… one blend in particular still gives me chills when I hear it, it’s just such a dramatic transition. The section starting with “Close To Perfection” is just that: my idea of heaven on a dancefloor. That mix is everything I love about New York City and music all rolled into one.