The band had been teasing the dub remix of their acclaimed 2022 album ‘Life Is Yours’ since last summer, before announcing that the full remix by Speedy Wunderground label boss and superproducer Carey (Wet Leg, Slowthai, Fontaines D.C.) would be arriving as part of 2023’s Record Store Day releases.
For a taster of the record, today (February 24) Foals shared the Carey dub mix of the single ‘2AM’.
“This is the most interesting version,” frontman Yannis Philippakis told NME. “It’s one of the most full and dubbiest moments of the record. Some tracks are slightly dancier and in a more electronic place while others sound like full, sonic-heavy dubs.
“The whole thing was about Dan pulling up all of the material and then doing live dubs on the desk. Dan did some sessions with Lee Scratch Perry when he was younger and it left quite a formative impression on him. He’s always had that ability to really free himself on the desk. As he’d produced a lot of ‘Life Of Yours’, we had the idea that it would be fun for him to take a lot of that core material and goes off in space – via his studio in Streatham.”
Philippakis continued: “Because ‘2AM’ is one of the biggest tracks off the record, it’s interesting how he managed to subvert it and have the lyrics take on a different flavour. It’s got more of a darker, late-night swagger than the original.
“Now it’s 2AM, there are no buses, no streetlights working, and the streets are piled high with trash. I like it. It’s this kind of Knight Rider vibe to it.”
The frontman explained why it was important to give the record a full dub reimagining, so that it could be seen as its own entity.
“It’s not like we’re going, ‘Oh, here are some extra tracks’ or, ‘Here’s the record remixed by a bunch of different people’. It’s just taking all of the material that’s there and getting deep with it,” he said. “It’s like being presented with a photograph of the album and this is the negative that you’ve never seen. It’s a total invert. If ‘Life Is Yours’ is a daytime summer record, full of light with these clean white lines, then this is literally a colour negative. It’s a sweaty and unclean flip of it.
“The album artwork is that too – I like the dark black and gold swagger of it.”
Pointing to other highlights on the record, Philippakis said: “The ‘Under The Radar’ dub is really exciting. The lead melodic hook now feels like it was made for a dub or dancehall record. What I liked about being confronted with this is how it shows you how many different avenues there are for the presentation of a musical idea. The one that we take within Foals is the one that’s natural to us, but the ideas could be alien. I felt like I was listening to our music but from a King Tubby but thinking, ‘Oh, I wrote that!’
He continued: “On ‘Wild Green’ and ‘Life Is Yours’, he’s just taken those into a more ecstatic, dancey place. I think he imagined the record as starting at the beginning of a night out, starting off slow and in a mellow place, then just a further progression to somewhere much more intense. That’s why it’s not sequenced in the same way as the original record, because his versions of ‘Looking High’ and stuff are more trancey so the whole record builds to that place.”
Asked about Carey’s unique approach to music, Philippakis hailed him as “an amazing chameleon”.
“He’s got a hip-hop background, he’s remixed Kylie Minogue, he’s made dub records, he’s been in experimental jam bands, he can fire up the biggest modular synth system you’ve ever seen – but also he can just put his eye to the purity of a bassist and a drummer and getting the groove right in a room,” he explained. “He’s got a renaissance ability to look at all aspects of music; especially with recording. He’s adaptable and can fit in with whatever an artist requires.
“I heard that with Fontaines, he recorded stuff straight to tape and there was a strict approach in terms of performances. With us, there was a totally different approach where he constructed a rhythm machine to conjure up a fifth member of the band. To be able to do those things not just in the same studio but within a few months, that takes a very genuinely exploratory musician.
“He’s working a lot so he’s really in the groove. He never stops and that gives him this incredible rhythm and routine where he’s always on his game. ”
The band were also keen that the release be made all the more special by being part of the Record Store Day 2023 celebrations.
“There’s just so much content out there and it’s nice to say, ‘This is an amazing document of something’,” the frontman explained. “It’s suited for vinyl; it’s great to put out something more limited and we hope it gets people into record shops. It’s not about doing the numbers. If you like ‘Life Is Yours’ or just want to explore this sound, you’ll be into it. Dub fans who might not like Foals will dig this too.”
The band’s next major appearance in the UK will be headlining Reading & Leeds Festival, alongside the likes of The Killers, Sam Fender, Billie Eilish and Lewis Capaldi.
When quizzed if they’d been planning anything special to top their last spot headlining the festival back in 2016, Yannis replied: “We’ve got quite a lot of touring before it so I think we’re just going to be playing around with our set. We might have a surprise around who’s playing with us, but all will be revealed before then. We’re just excited for that show. It will be the perfect way to end the summer.”
For now, the band are gearing up to support Paramore on their summer tour in the US – something with Yannis said he was “really excited about it”.
“I’m intrigued and excited,” he said. “I really like their new record [‘This Is Why’], and it will be cool to play to some new people in stadiums and hang out with Paramore. We kick off the tour in New Orleans, which is one of our favourite places so it’ll be good to eat some gumbo and see some jazz.
“We’ve toured the States a lot so it’ll be good to play to some different people who might not have heard us.”
Would he be game for doing a Taylor Swift and joining Paramore on stage for a collab?
“Yeah, maybe!” he replied. “If they’re open to it, I’m up for it. They’re taking Bloc Party out on the road with them too and apparently the new Paramore record was inspired by them and us so it would be cool to jam.
“They’re amazing players so we’re just looking forward to watching them, but if they fancy wheeling us out for some sort of encore collab, that would be fun. Maybe shoot us out of a confetti cannon?”
Check back at NME soon for more of our interview with Philippakis.
Foals release ‘Life Is Dub’ as part of Record Store Day 2023 on Saturday April 22.
The band also recently shared new versions of three tracks that they recorded with the London Contemporary Orchestra.