Richard Russell is many things—musician, DJ, producer and co-founder of XL Recordings. Making a second album as Everything Is Recorded revealed another calling, though. “Giggs once said to me that I was a time traveller, and I didn’t know what he was talking about,” Russell tells Apple Music. “But this made me aware that a big part of my work is being a connector between people and between eras. With the samples, I’m taking records from the ’70s and ’80s mostly and I’m presenting them to artists who are of now and the future, trying to connect these different times to make something exciting and present.” FRIDAY FOREVER tells the turbulent story of a night out and the next day through narrators including UK rap superstar Aitch, punk godhead Penny Rimbaud and R&B riser Infinite Coles. Russell’s method was to find collaborators based on an emotional connection to their music and what the samples and sketches he’d been working on might inspire in them. They’ve coalesced into a record that bottles the havoc and adventure of a night out before peering uneasily through the bottom of that bottle the following morning. “When I started making music, which was the rave era, I never made an album, I made a bunch of different tracks,” he says. “This is my rave album—but because I’ve made it at this point in my life, it’s as much about the aftermath as it is about the rave.” Here, he takes us though the story track by track.
09:46 PM / EVERY FRIDAY THEREAFTER (Intro) [feat. Maria Somerville & Berwyn] “It’s very minimal. You mainly hear Maria Somerville, Berwyn doing backing vocals and me playing an MS-20 synth. But there's definitely some spiritual quality there. Friday night was Sabbath in my family house growing up. It was taken very seriously and I used to participate in that. But then I used to be trying to escape and get on the Northern Line and go into town and go clubbing. So there's just a hint of that feeling, and I think it is a spiritual feeling, Friday night is a spiritual moment in different ways for me.”
10:51 PM / THE NIGHT (feat. Berwyn & Maria Somerville) “Its a very minimal, noisy bit of music. I left all the feedback in, all the noise, didn't clean it up at all. Totally raw. I've got a metal water canister and I'm banging that with a drumstick. I'm stomping on the floor and I'm banging on the wooden stair outside my studio. And I just looped me doing that over the Smog sample [‘Hollow Out Cakes’]. And then there's this great performance by Berwyn. Berwyn is like two people in that song, because there's a great song performance and a great rap performance. I think there's a bit of danger to it, there's edge there, there’s anticipation and there's tension.”
12:12 AM / PATIENTS (F*****G UP A FRIDAY) [feat. Aitch & Infinite Coles] “Aitch was able to very easily and directly capture that sense of being in the club and things being out of hand. From the first time I heard him—my teenage son played a freestyle of his to me before it had all gone nuts for him—I thought he was amazing. I just thought, ‘What a flow. What a voice. What an attitude.’ He came to the studio and did those two verses incredibly quickly. Infinite is offering a slightly more introspective take on the night out. There's very little music in this apart from the 909 drum machine, and the reference there is Schoolly D’s ‘P.S.K.’, which is one of my favourite rap songs of all time. The music's got to spark something for the vocalist, and I think it sparked something for Aitch and Infinite. They both delivered amazing performances.”
01:32 AM / WALK ALONE (feat. Infinite Coles & Berwyn) “Infinite’s voice has always sounded how I imagine the Paradise Garage to have sounded—although it was a little bit before my time. I started working in Vinylmania Records in New York two to three years after the Paradise Garage closed. That was the record shop that Larry Levan [Paradise Garage DJ] used to go to. The record I sampled on here—Man Friday, ‘Love Honey, Love Heartache’—was released on the Vinylmania record label and was produced by Larry Levan. This song is a complete homage and appreciation of '80s New York, updating that sound—which is incredibly resonant now. What happened at the Paradise Garage had such a seismic, eternal impact on clubbing. There would be no clubbing as we know it really without the Paradise Garage, which in turn was heavily influenced by The Loft.”
02:56 AM / I DONT WANT THIS FEELING TO STOP (feat. FLOHIO) “I love the Mikey Dread sample [‘Dizzy’]. That was on his album Pave the Way, which is great. I was actually cutting it up live in the studio and tweaking it, slowing it down, speeding it up and filtering it while Flohio was writing and doing her vocal performance. That felt very much like a club-type environment, and you can kind of feel that in there, it's got that energy. That sample—'I don't want this feeling to stop, I like it'—caught that peak club moment and that feeling, which can't last but is what people are looking for on their night out. Then Flohio ran with that. It was a really, really fun, quick, spontaneous song to record.”
03:15 AM / CAVIAR (feat. Ghostface Killah & Infinite Coles) “This beat was me and Ben Reed, who plays with Frank Ocean sometimes, just jamming. I was playing a really simple 4/4 beat on an MPC, banging it out robotically, and he came up with that rolling bassline. I was like, ‘Yeah, that's it. Got something.’ Infinite told this story about an experience he'd had heading in a taxi in New York to an after-party and these misadventures they were getting into. Infinite [and I] talked about doing something with [Infinite’s father] Ghostface. We sent the whole thing to him and he just sent that verse back. We couldn't believe it when we got it. It was incredible. He's such an incredible vocalist in a way that goes beyond any type of genre—he’s just one of the great voices of all time. And obviously Wu-Tang is as resonant and as powerful as ever. So we were really honoured for him to join it. And funnily enough, it has my son on it too, playing the live drums that come in halfway through.”
04:21 AM / THAT SKY (feat. Maria Somerville & James Massiah) “[We were] playing around with the Sun Ra sample, and that very free, loose kind of lo-fi feeling it gave, jamming over it with different keyboards, guitar. Maria came in and her voice has this real ethereal beauty to it. I felt like we were getting into that kind of chill-out moment—you’re back at someone's house, this is the kind of music you want to hear. I was trying to imagine myself in that spot and what you want to hear. Then James Massiah comes in and he's actually telling you about what's been happening in his night so far.”
05:10 AM / DREAM I NEVER HAD (feat. A.K. Paul) “It’s a slightly psychedelic, woozy, kind of melodic fever dream as you’re drifting off. Things not being totally real and things not being totally clear. The Teardrop Explodes sample [‘Tiny Children’]—that’s my childhood bedroom music. That came out when I was 10, and Julian Cope’s a hero, I totally love that song. It was really easy to build the rest of it around that. Samples are like giving someone a gift that might spark some kind of response. You’ve got to think about the recipient of the gift. I would think, ‘The sample of Mikey Dread, I want to play that to Flohio. The sample of Julian Cope, I want to play that to A.K. Paul.’ A.K. Paul’s got that sort of Prince-influenced vocal and guitar—Prince had that psychedelic edge.”
09:35 AM / PRETENDING NOTHINGS WRONG (feat. Kean Kavanagh) “There’s two samples here. There's Tangerine Dream, which is those very ominous chords, and then Lamont Dozier saying, ‘Pretending nothing’s wrong when all the time the pain goes on.’ And then Kean Kavanagh…I think those lyrics are just brilliant. We wrote those together, this incredibly visceral, pretty brutal thing that everyone’s experienced: He talks about putting his face down on the lino and feeling the cold of the floor to try to cool himself down, and putting his finger down his throat, and it’s grim. That was the feeling. Then you have this conversation between him and Berwyn, catching up about what the hell happened last night. Those next-day phone conversations are pretty funny, and it was nice to capture that. The song is fairly eerie, but the humour’s very important. That era I started in, there was a lot of humour to all that music, in the hardcore thing. It’s very British. It has to happen naturally, but a lot of music makers are very funny. So when that crops up, it's a nice thing.”
10:02 AM / BURNT TOAST (feat. Berwyn & A.K. Paul) “It’s got that laconic, mellow kind of feel to it. Berwyn's rap is quite dark. It's a really, really good lyric. And I think A.K. brings that melodic feeling to it. It’s tough and it nods back maybe to a ’90s Bristol sound with that slightly dusty and dark atmospheric, and hip-hop influence. It’s slightly folky as well—a feeling that I think is present on the record.”
11:55 AM / THIS WORLD (feat. Infinite Coles & Maria Somerville) “I’m as proud of this as of anything I've ever done—just because it has so much feeling to it. [Before embarking on FRIDAY FOREVER] I was doing a bunch of stuff with Infinite. We did this song, 'This World’s Gonna Break Your Heart’, which was based on a Maddy Prior & The Carnival Band sample—‘Poor Little Jesus’. It was beautiful and it really felt like a morning-after song. Then he wrote ‘CAVIAR’, and he also had a lyric for ‘PATIENTS’. And I was reading an interview with Francis Ford Coppola, who said, ‘If you want to tell a story, it’s a good idea to have the ending first.’ It suddenly struck me that here was the story: Even in these three songs was a story of going out, things reaching some type of a crescendo and then the next day. And that made me think we should make a record based on that. I could approach it like a movie, cast it and tell the cast members, ‘Well, here's the story and you can kind of write your scene.’ I play guitar on this, we kept that from the demo, and Owen Pallett added the strings, and there's some vocals from Maria right at the end, and it’s really very beautiful, I think.”
11:59 AM / CIRCLES (Outro) [feat. Penny Rimbaud] “It’s a reprise of ‘THIS WORLD’. Crass were incredibly important to me. Anyone who identifies with that punk spirit, whether they know it or not, they’re relating to Crass. Crass was such a part of the formula: punk being about a DIY approach, about self-reliance, but also being about a communal spirit, and not being pushed around and doing what you think is right. Penny [Rimbaud, Crass frontman] embodied that. He does spoken word and is a very spiritual man. When I played him ‘THIS WORLD’ and said, ‘Do you think you could add something on this theme?’, he said, ‘Well, perhaps, but you have to remember I’m an optimist.’ And when he said that, I thought, ‘Actually, so am I. Nonetheless, there’s still something in the idea that this world’s going to break your heart.’ And he was into that. It brings things all the way round. He’s saying, ‘I knew then that I had come down to earth.’ So this really finishes off this kind of journey. I recorded 20 or 30 friends and people who were in the studio just saying the words ‘This world's going to break our hearts.’ But then Penny says, ‘With joy.’ That’s an optimistic note, and, as we record this [interview, during the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak], a bit of optimism feels very, very important and possibly something people are going to struggle to find for the time being. It feels like a timely song, I suppose.”


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