19-11-2012 | 12.03
The ancient Greeks believed that 33 was a comfortable age to pass away, because a man’s life was essentially never going to be any greater than at that age. Well, Hercules and Love Affair front man Andy Butler just turned 34 and the end is nowhere near!
Why the name Hercules and Love Affair?
‘When I was 7 years old I had this teacher who, instead of reading us fairytales, would read us Greek myths. After class I went up to her and asked if I could have one of those books. I immediately fell in love with it. At university, ten years later, I picked it up again and I found some really interesting stories about Hercules. Stories that weren’t included in my book, because they had an adult nature to them. They were about his love affairs. Eurystheus notes Hercules as the strongest man on earth, but he was also extremely passionate. Some myths depict him as really being ruled by his heart. I thought that was very beautiful, this idea that he was both extremely virile and masculine from the outside and then also very sensitive at the same time. I guess I was hoping to find a man like that in my life.’
Are you still looking for him?
‘I did a decent job to find myself a few individuals throughout my life that came fairly close to that interpretation.’
So the attraction to Hercules was in the contradiction between strength and sensitivity. Do you think it also works that way with art?
‘I think that would be true. The best works of art hint to both places. It’s like the symbol of the theatre where you have a smiling mask and a sobbing mask. And when it comes to dance music, you can be crying and dancing at the same time.’
How are those two sides represented in your life?
‘I’m a pretty emotional person and I tend to be in the extreme. But I’m very much pursuing mental balance. I don’t think it’s great to be so blinded by optimism and joy that you don’t have your feet on the ground. But I also don’t think it’s wise to be so critical that you keep sitting in that kind of blue, dark place. So yeah, I’m something in between, but I had to work on that ever since I was young.’
Do you think it’s inherent to being an artist to experience emotions in the extreme?
‘I think many artists are born with the ‘wacky-gene’. The passion that they feel can often seem irrational to an outsider who is not that creatively involved. But there’s beauty in it. If you feel so intensely, you can create something really exciting. But I don’t think you necessarily have to be that way to be an artist. Like I also think you don’t have to go to bed hungry to be a real artist. I used to think you had to suffer in order to be creative, but I don’t feel that way anymore. When I was younger I used to wonder if I would live past 33. I had a kind of recklessness about my own wellbeing. Now I realize I will probably walk around here a bit longer. In ancient Greek times 33 was the most important age for a man.’
Did you experience any herculean adventures making the DJ-Kicks recording?
‘Well, I had to do it three times! The first time I immediately got feedback saying: no you can’t use that song, you can’t use that song, and you can’t use that song. I think maybe 1 or 2 of the songs I had chosen for the first 30 minutes were ok to use. I worked so hard, I had chosen really carefully what I wanted, and then I was just told no. The second time, already on the first song I was told no. So the third time, I went into the studio and I said to them: ‘I hope for your sake that you can get all these songs, because this is what it’s going to be.’ And I don’t know how, but with this collection of songs that I chose, they said yes to all of them. Really amazing, because a lot of it’s rare and not easy to get. Some of the records I’ve had since I was 15 years old. They literally have been with me through... Gosh, my first trip to London when I was 21, DJ’ing there for the first time. If you listen closely you can hear all of the crackles. But that’s ok, that just adds to the authenticity.’
Text: Tessa Velthuis