Hercules and Love Affair: A Quickie With the Versatile Andy Butler | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Hercules and Love Affair

A Quickie With the Versatile Andy Butler

Aug 12, 2011 Web Exclusive
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It’s been over three years since Hercules and Love Affair released their sophisticated and captivating self-titled debut. Hercules and Love Affair was one of 2008’s most talked about records; disco-revivalism at its finest, indeed. Their sophomore album, Blue Songs (released this past January in the U.K.) is finally coming to America on August 16th and just to say, “sorry for the wait,” it’ll be packaged with a handful of—mostly—superfluous remixes, which is an arguably lame gimmick, seeing as anybody in America who cares about Hercules has probably already paid the outrageous import price. Bonus material aside, the heavy-hitting Chicago-house thud and avant-garde songwriting that make up the material on Blue Songs makes it an album well worth the wait.

Hercules and Love Affair’s mastermind, New York City-based DJ Andy Butler, was gracious enough to give Under the Radar a few minutes in between shows on their European tour to talk (briefly) about Blue Songs, its delayed stateside release, Greek mythology, and his personal affection for Chicago house.

Kenny S. McGuane: I have to ask: Why did your American fans have to wait so long for a stateside release of Blue Songs?

Andy Butler: Well, the boring answer is that we were looking for a label. We decided on using !K7 to distribute it in the end. But I must say, one of the more frustrating parts of the project has been trying to get the powers that be (i.e. management) and Moshi Moshi to get out of the U.K. bubble and think about the Americas.

This is in no way meant to be a slam on Blue Songs, but the absence of Antony Hegarty was a disappointment. Did you make a decision early on not to have him featured or was the timing just off?

Antony gave so much to that first record, I knew he would not be involved on this one. He needed to return to his own work, which I—per usual—find outstanding.

How did the deal with Kele Okereke (of Bloc Party) come about? He sounds fantastic; why wasn’t he on more tracks?

Kele was in the process of gearing up for touring his solo album, and producing more. It was fun meeting him, clicking, making a new friend, and then getting a great song out of it.

I think “Falling” is just fabulous. It’s a perfect song. What can you tell us about its meaning and concept?

The content comes from the myth of Theseus. Theseus volunteers to slay the Minotaur and promises when he returns his sails will be black if he is dead. Looking out from a cliff his father waits. Theseus forgets to change the sails. So it’s sung from the perspective of a king that throws himself off of a cliff, feeling like at least he knew what happened to his son. Kinda morbid, but a great story.

I was excited to see that you’d covered [Sterling Void’s] “It’s Alright” on Blue Songs. It’s gorgeous, but it’s a new approach, for sure. Can you talk about your thinking on that track?

It’s personal to me because it represents the purity and power that house music can have. These black boys in Chicago, writing about world events is astounding, because we are pretty apathetic in general nowadays. It is also presented this way [as it is on the album] to remember the man who sold me that record who died tragically a couple of years ago.

As its title suggests, Blue Songs is markedly gloomier than its predecessor. Is the new material reflective of you personally, your mood, your experiences? Or did you just want to shift the aesthetic in a different direction?

I love playfulness in music, but I also find sincerity/authenticity vs. irony more pertinent to today. I like aesthetic freedom.

Your debut was really heavy on “disco,” but Blue Songs is noticeably more “house.” Was this change organic? “My House” is an obvious example, but I hear the change throughout the entire record.

I was just DJing a ton and listening to my classic house records. I had been collecting disco, making disco mixes cosmic and up-tempo for 10 years, so I just kinda moved on.

Disco and (vintage) house music seem to be enjoying quite the renaissance, and a lot of it pretty perfectly advances gay/transgender/androgynous awareness and tolerance. What are your thoughts on this?

I think it’s genius. It, again, allows people to be who they really are on the dance floor.

Can you remember the album or the artist that served as a turning point for you? The music that made you decide you wanted to DJ and make music?

Probably an old school West Coast DJ like Garth or Doc Marten and productions from DJ EFX.

When you write do you generally start with music and then fill in the lyrics later or is it just the opposite?

Write, then fill in the lyrics, but it depends, it can happen both ways.

Do you still plan on continually rotating the members of Hercules and Love Affair?

I plan on bringing new talent in when it fits and if the others feel they need to leave and prepare for their own careers.

What’s next for Hercules and Love Affair?

Conceptualizing and writing the next record.



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