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Tome On The Range

Powell's Books: A Baker's Dozen Special Edition
Adam Lehrer , August 22nd, 2020 08:03

Electronic music producer Powell picks favourite books by Baudrillard, Derrida, Kafka, and Susan Sontag

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Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus
If you were going to strike a Faustian bargain what would you want in return? 

Oh man, this is going to make me emotional (laughs). The first thing I thought about was to feel secure about my work and artistically content, as opposed to in constant anxiety and self-doubt. But at the same time that lack of peace can lead you to interesting places artistically, so it really is a deal with the devil. But the way Mann writes about music in Doctor Faustus is extraordinary. He wrote three or four pages at a time just about Leverkühn’s theory of composition, bringing in nature, movement, colour, and interpolation. When he writes about music he does so in a way that I hear music. It’s a colour thing for me, words make me see colour. If you have any creative pursuit then Thomas Mann can really overload your brain with joy. 

While we are here, talking about relationships to art, what stage did you become enthusiastic about making music?

Not until I was in my mid-teens going to clubs in London. I wouldn’t like to say that it coincided with intense drug use, but I’m sure that was part of it. Electronic music at that time was so focused and influential. Jungle was just turning into drum n' bass, which was on the cusp of going into the shithole. But I got the end of a good thing with producers like Goldie. Goldie still sounds like the future.