Interview: Blood Diamonds

Blood Diamonds – Photo courtesy of Blood Diamonds

Blood Diamonds – Photo courtesy of Blood Diamonds

When Mike Tucker speaks, his speech is full of valleys and peaks. When he talks about his experiences as a musician and what he is learned, he is calm, even-keeled. But when he gets excited, Tucker speeds up, his sentences peppered with abstract descriptions and plenty of “justs” and “likes.”

But Tucker, who is the man behind 4AD‘s Blood Diamonds, has a lot to be excited about. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and now calling Los Angeles a part-time home, it was during his time in Vancouver when he really began to garner a following, something that was spurred on by his unlikely friendship with Grimes’ Claire Boucher.

The two met when both were just beginning their careers, and have remained friends since. In fact, Tucker cited Grimes’ signing with 4AD, an event that occurred before the release of her big breakthrough, “Vision,” as an event that has encouraged him on his own journey.

“That kind of gave me a glimpse of, like, what is possible as a solo artist,” he said, referring to that time period and all that has occurred in the relatively short amount of time since.

So it makes sense that when Tucker released his first EP, “Phone Sex,” Boucher featured on the single. However, fans shouldn’t be surprised to see him branch out with other artists, Charli XCX being one of them, and Sky Ferreira being a hopeful collaboration.

“I just love working with other artists, like, that’s kinda like one of the big reasons I do music is just, like to collaborate,” Tucker said. “Both sides learn and kind of grow.”

He also shared that in addition to being mutually beneficial, collaborations also offer endless possibilities as to where music and relationships can go.

In the meantime, Tucker is working on his first full-length, which is due to be released next year. While many of the songs are already written, now begins to process of narrowing down the selections and fine-tuning the songs.

“I’m still a while off from like finishing,” he said, but already can speak to the sound. “It has that element of, like, pop and, like, accessibility and, like, electronic dance music.”

Currently, Tucker is at about the halfway mark of his first official European tour. Although he has played dates in Ibiza with Boucher, it will be the first time he visits most of the places he’s scheduled to perform at. And while they all excite him, Berlin is relatively high on his list.

“I hear so much cool shit about Berlin,” he said, sharing that his tour manager used to live there for a while. “I’ve heard a lot of cool things about Berghain, [so] I’m pretty excited to experience that.”

The show in Berlin will also be with Purity Ring, a band that Tucker is friends with.

“I have like a pretty extensive light rigging as well,” he said, referring to Purity Ring’s live setup. “So whenever I see Corin [Roddick] we just totally nerd out about stupid shit.”

In particular, Tucker’s set focuses on the intense interplay between darkness and light.

“I have like four super bright LED panels and, like, 3,000 watts worth of strobes. I have, like, a thing that illuminates me. At all the venues, like, I have it, like, be pitch black except for the lights,” he said. “So there are moments in the set where you just see the flash of me, right? And other moments where you don’t see me at all. So it’s like, kind of like dramatic and abrasive.”

The goal for Tucker, in addition to setting the mood, is also to incorporate the audience into the show itself, which allows it to be an active experience instead of a passive set spent just watching someone. The whole effect is also to surprise people at the show.

“I like people’s first and last impressions when I play. Just cause like people are kinda shocked when they see to begin with, just because I’m a giant and I play a cape sometimes, and they’re just kind of like ‘who the fuck is this guy?'” he said. “I feel like a lot of the time they’re just expecting someone like fucking…post-chillwave bullshit”

Instead, Tucker said he often catches people off guard, particularly those who aren’t already familiar with his music, and that allows him to gauge the effectiveness of his music.

“I feel like that’s a very like pure impression of things,” he said.

Blood Diamonds plays tonight at Kantine am Berghain in Berlin. The show begins at 21.00. Afterward, head to Monarch for the after party with live DJ sets.

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