Boards of Canada
In the course of less than a year Scotland’s Boards of Canada has three remixes, a debut album, a track on Warp’s celebrated 100th release and a new album in the works. Mysterious and undefined- could BoC be the KLF of a new generation? Marcus Eoin and Michael Sandison set us straight and prove there’s more to Scotland than just Mogwai, Glasgow Underground and bagpipes.
First off, why the name Boards of Canada, why not Mysteries of Egypt, Beer Bottles of Milwaukee…?
Our name is derived from the National Film Board Of Canada. We used to listen to those soundtracks as kids, and we made imaginary soundtracks for imaginary documentaries. It was just one source of inspiration for us in the beginning. Mysteries of Egypt? A band with a name like that would upset me.
Previously, BoC went through numerous member changes before it was just the two of you- do you liken what you do now to what you did then (musically)?
I think there’s always been a consistency to what we do. I’ve recently been archiving some very old material, some from the early 80s, when we were about twelve years old or something. A lot of it is like what we do now. When we experimented with other live musicians over the years in between, our music went through some huge changes, then we came full-circle and started doing experimental electronic tunes again. Now that it’s just the two of us we can be ruthlessly single-minded about what we do.
In the U.S. you’ve kinda crawled out of nowhere now with the album and Mira Calix remix- any plans for world domination?
We might dominate the world, but not through selling records.
How did you hook up with Warp/Skam?
We did a self-financed EP in 1995 called “Twoism,” just for friends, and it was sent as a gift to about a half-dozen of our favourite artists, and Sean Booth from Autechre, who is involved with Skam, called us the next day. He asked us to release an EP on Skam (the “Hi Scores” EP in ’96). Then one thing led to another.
You seem to have a strong art connection (use of super 8, graphics, et al) any art background?
Neither of us studied art in further education, if that’s what you mean. It’s just something we’ve done since we were kids. We started making super-8 films when we were about twelve, mucking around with borrowed equipment, and our friends and families are all involved with art and music to some extent. We’ve got strong opinions about other people’s art, music, and filmmaking, so we’re a bit megalomanical about our own work.
Be as secretive as you want but I’m curious – what gear do you use?
Heh, a real mixture. This is a common question. We have a mixture of old and new gear. We record a lot of live sounds into samplers. We like making things sound as though they’ve come from a film or an old record, but you’ll be looking for a long time to find those sources, because they don’t exist. Almost all of our sounds are created on acoustic instruments such as guitars or drums or voices, then processed and fucked over in the samplers, and turned into something completely different. For instance, all the percussion on “An Eagle In Your Mind” was made with the human voice. Sometimes we create sounds on old synths. A lot of kids who want to get into electronic music ask that question, and they’re missing the point really. If you have a strong musical vision, you should be able to achieve it with whatever comes to hand. If you gave us a bucket and two pieces of plywood we would try to make a good album with them.
Any plans to release the BBC session?
Probably not. We’re quite pleased with that session, especially the odd version of “Aquarius,” but we’re very particular about what goes out on our records, because you have to imagine them being picked up and played ten or twenty years from now.
The next album is slated for late this year… I’m hearing that it’s supposed to be “different” what can we not expect?
It’s likely to be released in the early part of 1999. The current album “Music Has The Right To Children” is kind of an introduction. We just want to make a classic album that you can play a thousand times over. You can not expect seagulls on it.
I’m in Milwaukee so I’m obligated to ask – what’s your favorite beer?
I’m in Scotland. Any beer.