Tuesday 10 June 2008

Interview - Ali Love

Ali Love is great to talk to. We did a lot of taking the mick out of each other, copying each other's accents saying 'Yeah man! Yeah man!' Er, maybe you had to be there. When his phone cut out, his PR assured me he was very disappointed and he'd call back later on.

I'm still waiting!

Words - Suzy Sims
Previously published on Native.tv http://www.native.tv in September 2007
(c) Niche News & Publishing Ltd


Ali Love has a particular fondness for stir-fry spicy broccoli. He’s eating breakfast (at lunchtime) at his local Vietnamese when we call. It’s a regular haunt which he enjoys because they give him extra portions. I have a baked potato for my lunch, I say. Love imitates my Hampshire accent with a giggle then accuses me of sounding like his ex-girlfriend “which is quite strange. You better not be.”

Ali Love is bringing back disco. We’re not sure where from, but he’s grabbed hold of its shiny lapels, covered it in soul and funky house, and is currently painting it gold and spacey while leading it towards the dancefloor and thrusting a lightsaber in its hand. Love was once described by Drowned in Sound as ‘Skewered genius or a glorified fuck-up? You decide...’ (They later referred to him as ‘techno tit’, but that would make a great t-shirt slogan). Lovers of the underground scene may be familiar with ‘electro-punk’ ‘Lost In The K-Hole’, released in limited amounts on Love’s own I Love Records.

“I just put that out about a year or so ago just to see what happened you know? Luckily it did well. That label’s still kicking around. Obviously I got signed to Columbia but if I see a band I really like I’ll put a record out. It is a real label,” he assures me, “so if ever I make any money then I’ll maybe set it up properly and put some more stuff out on it, not just my own.”

Those of you less familiar with the dark side of the dance floor may have heard Mr Love’s dulcet tones as the vocalist for the Chemical Brothers ‘Do It Again’. The Bros heard ‘Lost In The K-Hole’ and Ed met up with Love. “I just got on well with him and we had the same taste in music and stuff, and then he gave us a call about a week or so later and just asked if I wanted to have a go at doing the vocals. And the actual day itself was just very easy, it’s one of those days where the tune writes itself.”

This means that Love has started to see the odd side of fame. “A lot of my mates have been to festivals and I’m always getting phone calls like ‘I’ve just seen your face 100ft-high in Glastonbury’ or something and I’m like, oh God, that’s weird. It’s quite funny, they made me do a really scary face so I look quite psychotic.” And that’s not your normal look. I’ll write that down. “No. I’m a lover, not a hater.” Ali Love, not Hate. “Yeah man.”

He asks where I’m based and on learning it’s in the south he asks if there are any beaches nearby. Not really, just a harbour with some pebbles a few miles away. “I like beaches. Anyway sorry. I digress.” We can talk about beaches if you like. What’s your favourite beach, Mr Love? “I don’t know.” You don’t get many in London. “No. They don’t have that many beaches in London,” he says curtly. “Sorry, I’m eating my food. How rude.”

The young Ali first got into music as a youngster, beatboxing in the school field with his friends and “making up little stupid raps. The first kind of music I was really into was kind of electro, I was only about five and that’s when electro was kind of going on. All my brothers were breakdancers so I used to go and watch them breakdance in the street.”

Now he manages to write, play and produce all his own songs. After working as a session bassist from the age of 18, he turned to the guitar and then the keyboards. “By the time I got to making this record I could play quite a lot of the instruments so I didn’t really need to get that many people in. Obviously when you do it live I’ve got a band, The Lovers.”

‘This record’ he refers to is album ‘Love Music’, which also includes previous single ‘Secret Sunday Lover’ and the gloriously smooth ‘Late Night Session.’ “That’s a night at a club that I used to run myself, which is a club below my house. So my bedroom used to be the VIP room and it was a wild time. Actually the music that was played there was more like electro but the sort of style I did it in was more Kool & The Gang or something like that. It’s a public service record. It’s to make people happy.”

Love is currently more than pleased that it’s been b-listed and was played by Terry Wogan just the other day. “That is brilliant, isn’t it?” he says. “Big up to Wogan. Wogan and Steve Wright, when I was little, watching Terry Wogan you know; I’m so glad he played my record and that made me happy. I used to listen to Steve Wright as well. He really likes it, he’s been singing along to it. So Radio 2’s where it’s at man, I’m really happy with that. A big hello to all the Radio 2 listeners out there.”

Yes, hello. Love almost didn’t get into music as a career though, and still isn’t quite sure how he managed it. “I wanted to be a comic drawer. I don’t know why I’m doing music! That’s all I really wanted to do when I was little, I just wanted to draw comics.”

Do you do your own little Ali Love comics? “I’m so busy I hardly ever get the time to do them, to be honest. I think I’m going to try and get a hit record out and then if I’ve got any spare time I’m going to try and do a comic and actually try and get it published. That would be really great. It would be very spacey I think, and psychedelic.”

Although you might be thinking ‘Ali Love, Radio 2’ and then making assumptions about his listeners, you might be interested to know that he played the MySpace Bleep Bleep Tour earlier with Pull Tiger Tail, I Say Marvin and Hadouken! “Hadouken! were good. I like that band. They’re really good energy, young kids running around, jumping up and down, they’re cool. It’s always good being on tour and having fun and it was the first time I tested out my new band. We didn’t have one argument between us and it’s a real smooth running machine, it was really good for that.”

Did you get all the scene MySpace kids turning up? “Yeah there’s quite a lot of that stuff. A few stage invasions!” You sound a bit surprised, not used to those? “No, not used to them. [laughs] Don’t really do that kind of music. Strange.”

I tell Love I saw the video to ‘Secret Sunday Lover’ and thought it looked great fun. He agrees that it was. “I tried to do a kind of Buck Rogers joke, Flash Gordon type thing, just for my enjoyment. It was great, it felt like being on the set of a sci-fi video, it was so much fun. Made me wish I was one of those actors you know, like on Battlestar Galactica or something.”

You could send out the video as a sort of casting thing? Anytime there’s a sci-fi film going. ‘Here’s my reel’. “Yeah, could do that, you’re right,” he laughs. The song itself is about the club ‘Secret Sundaze’ which Love recommends as a “really good club that’s really dedicated to the cutting edge of modern electronic music. They’re always pushing things forward.”

I look at my notes as Love munches his broccoli. There appears to be the word ‘lightsaber' written down. “I mean, I can’t drive, and my rent is £300 a month so I don’t have much money to spend on stuff, so I thought I’d go and buy a load of expensive lightsabers,” explains Love. “I’ve got one for each member of the band so we can walk on with lightsabers.”

Soon Love will be touring with fellow Londoner Just Jack and uber-producer Mark Ronson. “Just Jack is a very good friend of mine. I’ve actually recorded two songs on his album with him, so me and him go way back. I used to play in his band as a session musician, I used to play guitar with him about three years ago. [clatter of cutlery] So I think it’ll be good getting on stage with him.”

And Mark Ronson too, are you excited about that? “Yeah, I think he’s really cool. He’s a great producer. I really respect what he does.” His album’s wicked. “The Amy Winehouse production is out of this world. He’s really nailed that vibe, you know. So I’m very happy, I’m really looking forward to meeting him. He’s on the same label as me but I haven’t actually bumped into him yet.”

Ah. “Yeah. Yeah man!” Man! “Yeah man!” Bump into him and steal off his rider, man! “Yeah man!” Yeah man! “Yeah man! Yeah!”

With that profound sentence out of the way, I ask if Love has anything up his sleeves for the live shows. “I’m practising spins at the moment, like Prince. You know where Prince goes down, grabs the mic and kicks it over and then pulls it back up. I’ve been practising my guitar solos as well. So, spins and guitar solos, you can write.”

Sadly at this point the phone cuts out, probably after being dropped in someone's breakfast, but I think we’re pretty much finished. And besides, we both have food to eat.


Ali Love releases 'Late Night Sessions' on 1st October (download; 8th October physical) through Columbia. Album 'Love Music' is out on 24th September

Ali Love

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