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2013 Artist Survey: Outfit

Thomas Gorton on Spotify, Edward Snowden, Obamacare, Bad Reviews, and His Favorite Word

Feb 17, 2014 Artist Surveys 2013
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For Under the Radar‘s 11th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the important issues of the last year, as well as some quirkier subjects. Check out our next print issue and digital issue for surveys from My Morning Jacket, Foals, Amanda Palmer, Local Natives, Wild Nothing, These New Puritans, Lanterns on the Lake, Xiu Xiu, and Summer Camp.

Here are answers from Thomas Gorton of England’s Outfit. Outfit’s debut album, Performance, is out now on Double Denim.

Top 11 Albums of 2013

I don’t really buy all this best album thing. I’m about to give you a list that includes Kelela and Dutch Uncles. There’s no point saying that Kelela is better than Dutch Uncles or vice versa. So, in no particular order, here are some things that Outfit has really loved this year.

These New Puritans: Field of Reeds

Kelela: Cut 4 Me

Dean Blunt: Stone Island

Arca: &&&&&

Dutch Uncles: Out of Touch in the Wild

John Roberts: Fences

MONEY: In the Shadow of Heaven

Galcher Lustwerk: Blowing Up The Workshop

Perc: Wicker & Steel-Okay, released in 2011 but I bought it this year and I love listening to it on trains. Soundtrack to my train year.

Kanye West: Yeezus

James Holden: The Inheritors

What was the highlight of 2013, either for you personally or for the band?

I think that the highlight for all of us was Performance coming out. It was a proud moment, to have our first record out, something that we’d made ourselves, something that we had worked on in our studio and we were pleased to call ours. That was the highlight for me, certainly. I had a great summer in London too, gardening and collecting synths.

What was the low point of 2013 for you?

I don’t know, actually. I remember feeling some, for sure. Now that I think about it I can’t remember why. Maybe malaise is harder to look back on. It’s easier to look back and say, “I was happy then and I know why,” but I find it harder to look back and pinpoint why you were sad. It’s a far more complicated emotion; probably at the time you know why you’re sad but it washes away, blurs over time. Thinking about it, there were some personal things to go through which I won’t be discussing here.

What are your hopes and plans for 2014?

To make a second record that’s completely different from the first, and to go to another continent.

What are your thoughts on the passing of Lou Reed? Did his music influence you at all and in what way?

My thoughts are with Laurie Anderson, a heartbroken woman who makes absolutely breathtaking music. Poor Laurie. His music didn’t influence me really, no, but I used to love listening to “Sunday Morning” on Sunday morning when I was a teenager.

What are your thoughts on the U.S. government shutdown and the debt ceiling debate?

The U.S. government shutdown was particularly annoying because NASA’s website was offline.

What are your thoughts on Obamacare, now that it’s being implemented?

If it makes it cheaper and fairer for people to receive medical care than I’m all for it. I always thought that the way the medical system worked in America seemed a bit gross. The fact that I can see something like this going on in America makes me so grateful for the NHS. I hate it when people complain about it, or complain about medical staff. Those people work far harder than those complaining ever will and it’s free.

What is your opinion on the extensive government spying on the world’s Internet/phone usage? Is Edward Snowden a patriot or traitor?

I don’t know if he’s either. To me he seems like a purveyor of truth, somebody who has seen something that he believes to be terribly wrong with the world and decided to act on it. It doesn’t appear to be about loving or hating America. I think it’s morally reprehensible to spy on and intrude on the privacy of the inhabitants of this planet. We should all be allowed the opportunity to have conversations with no one else there.

What are your thoughts on music streaming services such as Spotify and Rdio? Are they good or bad for musicians?

I don’t have Spotify, but it’s a personal thing. I listen to music on YouTube all the time but because it’s inconvenient I end up buying the record. I still like that transaction, that feeling of ownership. Stupid as it might sound, I think paying for it makes me care about it more or listen to it more. Having said that, there’ve been some great free albums this year (Stone Island, Cut 4 Me). Maybe I even just like the act of downloading rather than streaming. How boring does that sound? I don’t know if these streaming websites are good or bad; anyone reading this will know as much about them as I do so make up your own mind. My journey to owning music usually goes like this, though: friendYouTubeBoomkat. For example, a friend said the other day, “you’d love John Roberts,” so I checked it out on YouTube and then I bought the record that day. I’m in love with it, phenomenal record, one of the best things I’ve heard in ages. I do loads of YouTube surfing when I find stuff I like, actually a really good way to find new music.

Who was the first person to break your heart? Whose heart did you first break?

My heart was first broken by the person that owned the first heart that I broke.

What was your most embarrassing moment in high school?

Probably performing as Mr. Hyde at 14 with orange hair (I’d tried to dye it red) and a black eye (I’d been punched).

Do bad reviews bother you and which negative review has affected you the most?

Bad reviews of Performance don’t bother me because I think it’s an absolute truth that the record is goodno-one can stop me thinking that. Bad live reviews are different because I’ll remember the show and maybe think, “yeah, it could have been better, they’re right” and then I’ll want to go back in time and play the show again because I know how capable we are of good live shows.

What moment in history do you most wish you could’ve witnessed in person?

Any moments between Triassic and Jurassic. I’d give anything to drive a large military vehicle across the Earth when it was dominated by entirely different creatures and landscapes.

What is your favorite word and why?

“Apricot.” It’s beautiful to look at, to say, and to eat.



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