A Love From Outer Space

Interview with Sean Johnston

A Love From Outer Space

20-07-2013 | 10.44

After having blowing each other’s minds for years with their hard-earned audio finds, Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston decided to organize their own club night in 2010 in order to give their sound an outlet. They named it after a track by A.R. Kane: A Love From Outer Space. Both gentlemen will be performing in De Verdieping all night long on July 26th with their eccentric act. We decided to ask Sean a couple of questions about his connection with Andrew and the idea behind A Love From Outer Space.

Hi Sean, thanks for having a chat with us. Could you tell us a bit more about the concept behind the initial A Love From Outer Space nights in North-London?

"Andrew Weatherall and I have been friends for many years (I recorded for his Sabres of Paradise label in the 90's). From time to time I have driven him to gigs. Some time in 2009 on a road trip I played him a mix that I had made of slow music. We both agreed that we were really excited about this type of music and resolved to start a night to play it (even if only 50 of our friends attended). It wasn't so much a concept as a feeling of "we like this, let's see if anyone else does"..."

Why did you decide to take ALFOS to the road and how would you describe the ALFOS sound?
"Well we've been venturing around Europe for the last two years. I think the main catalyst was our gig at the Electric Elephant in Croatia in 2011, there were a lot of people there from all over Europe and after that gig word just started to spread that we were doing something a bit different and that it was fun. It just escalated from there. To be honest if Andrew is involved in something people are always interested in what he is doing which obviously plays a large part, but the audience response has been so strong. The ALFOS sound is the distillation of 25 years record buying by two music fans. There are elements of primitive house, post-punk, dub, krautrock, disco and new beat all thrown into an evolving mix."

You’ve stated in a previous interview that "we’ve got stuck in a situation where clubs are full of DJ’s playing all the latest Beatport top 100 Deep House records." Would you say we are slowly witnessing the homogenisation of electronic music?
"That's a tricky one to answer, clubbing and electronic music are a pretty mainstream activity these days. If you look at something like RA's monthly chart or Beatport there are a lot of people pushing a very similar agenda. That whole Ibiza / Hot Natured mainstream house scene is as generic as you like. Conversely the little underground scenes all over the world are as strong and diverse as ever. I guess the whole thing is much more 'visible' than it was back in the day and due to the amount of channels music is very easily accessible, plus the bar to entry for DJing and Production is also much lower than it once was. All of these factors do lead to homogenisation. Yet every day if you look hard you can find new music that is unique and amazing. It depends if you just want to scratch the surface or dig a little deeper..."
ALFOS has the tag line: "Not knowingly exceeding 122bpm." Could you tell a little bit more about this (especially the ‘not knowingly’ part)?
"Oh that's just a bit of a joke, a play on words, John Lewis (a well known retail store in the UK) had a famous advertising strap-line of being "Never Knowingly Undersold". It's just the English sense of humour."

What’s it like playing back-to-back with Andrew? How do you relate to each other from one artist to the other? 
"To be honest initially it was quite nerve wracking for me, Andrew is technically a very gifted DJ, he never makes a mistake. Maintaining that level of quality assurance was a big pressure for me at the beginning, but now it's a lot of fun. I had to up my game pretty significantly...
As far as relating to each other musically it's pretty straightforward, we came from a very similar musical background and we have followed a similar musical journey over the years. We have similar tastes but both bring different facets."
If you were to hypothetically include a third ALFOS member, who would it be and why?
"That's easy, it would be Ewan Pearson. The three of us played together at Green Man Festival a couple of years back and it worked really well. Andrew and Ewan have played back together famously a number of times and I have warmed up for Ewan a few times. He's just on the same musical wavelength. He can be relied upon, is a gentlemen and knows how to rock the party."
Can you name three tracks that embody the spirit of ALFOS perfectly?
Mugwump - Boutade 2013 Redux (International Feel)
Craig Bratley - Obsession (Birdscarer)
AR Kane - A Love From Outer Space (4AD)

What plans are in the near future for you on a personal note?
"Really looking forward to Electric Elephant 2013, Lovebox, Trouw and hanging out with my girlfriend and daughters over the summer! I'm also writing some new Hardway Bros material which I'm really excited about."

Photo credits: Kane Aaron