Aphex Twin

Aphex Twin interviews are rare beasts, but with Richard D. James about to return with SYRO, his first proper studio album in 13 years, they’re suddenly a little thicker on the ground. Both FADER and Pitchfork have recently spoken with James, and both publications have unveiled a few highlights from their conversations before publishing those interviews. Some highlights: James has a few more albums in the work, he has a ton of older music like Caustic Window waiting around to see release if he can get organized enough to do it, and he’s been enjoying playing small, anonymous DJ gigs lately. The most interesting bit, however, is the part where he talks about Kanye West sampling his piano composition “Avril 14th” for the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy highlight “Blame Game.” Here’s what he says:

Is it a sample? I actually don’t know what it ended up being in the end, I’m so slack. I know that he tried to fucking rip me off and claim that he’d written it, and they tried to get away with not paying. I was really helpful, and when they first sent it to me, I was like, “Oh, I can re-do that for you, if you like,” because they’d sampled it really badly and time-stretched it and there was loads of artifacts. I was like, “I’ll just replay it for you at that speed if you want.” And they totally didn’t even say “hello” or “thanks,” they just replied with, “It’s not yours, it’s ours, and we’re not even asking you any more.” [laughs]

So if Kanye ends up murdered by a mob of demonic children with Richard D. James faces, we’ll now know why. SYRO is out 9/23 on Warp.

Comments (50)
  1. Richard D. James = Artist
    Kanye = Well…..Kayne, I suppose

  2. Look, I’m one of the biggest Kanye apologists you’ll ever meet.

    Ye interrupting Swift at the VMAs? Actually hilarious and kind of true!

    Ye releasing Yeezus? Well, he’s pushing new territory!

    Ye jacking Aphex Twin with a very Mulholland Drive-esque “it’s not your song anymore”?


    • So happy to see that from you, RJC : )

      • Thinking about it more, on Yeezus he credits “God” in co-writing “I Am A God”

        Yet when Richard D. James, who by all accounts IS a God, offers to co-write one of Ye’s songs he denies him???

        STUPID! But what the hell do I know?

        • I mean, considering that you *are* the Raptor Jesus, I’m willing to give credence to your assertions. That explains why your and Richard D. James’ initials are so close, after all…

        • I’m kinda confused here, I’m a huge fan of ye and Aphex but I think there might be a slight misunderstanding between them. Cause I just went through the Blame game credits and it clearly credits R. James as one of the writers and that the song contains elements of Avril 14th (it wasn’t sampled actually, Mike dean remade it or something like that). So I’m not sure what to say, Mike dean is kind of a douche so it might have been something to do from his side ? Note that Aphex says “they”. Kanye might be a “douche” and all but he is noted to be very generous with credits (cy hi the prince mentioned that in one of his interviews) I don’t think this might be his fault…..or it might, I want kanye to talk about this :( This made me pretty sad, I don’t want two of my favorite artists to have a beef or anything.

  3. Yeah, if there’s one person you make a point NOT to fuck with, it’s the guy on the front of the RIchard D. James Album.

  4. Blame Game is the #1 reason why I disagree with Pitchfork’s big list last week, but that’s more because of Chris Rock.

    • but… but… TWISTA had this shit on in THE SOURCE!!

    • Honestly, “Blame Game” is sort of brilliant. Especially that Chris Rock bit. It starts off humorous and quickly becomes awkward and sort of pathetic.

      Like, think about it. On any normal album, “Blame Game” would be the turning point where the protagonist realizes his wrongs and attempts to redeem himself by appealing to the audience’s pity.

      Instead, Kanye spent the last two minutes of his album’s “climax” by having his famous comedian friend say disgusting and degrading things to his ex-lover. Amber Rose will forever be cemented in the pop music canon as the girl who had her “pussy reupholstered” by Kanye West. Which really drives home the point that ultimately Kanye is incapable of sincerely apologizing for his mistakes because he’s an emotionally stunted and insecure man-child.

  5. I think I speak for most when I say that this is more sacrilegious than “I Am a God.”

  6. I think it’s time to crucify Yeezus.

  7. So Kanye was a jerk to someone but a good song came out of it… business as usual.

    • Excuse me but “someone” ??? SOMEONE?!?!?!

      And correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought back in 2010 we approved of “Blame Game” because we all ASSUMED Kanye had the money to properly pay Richard D. James for the “Avril 14th” sample (something the SNL cast DID NOT DO and got, rightfully, called out for it).

      I feel like had this nugget of information came out around MBDTF’s release, we’d of been just as up in arms.

      • Yeah I always hated “Blame Game” and thought it was a lazy sample, but figured it was just a matter of personal taste and ultimately fine for him to sample “Avril 14th” because I just assumed Kanye would not disrespect one of the most celebrated and influential figures in the history of electronic music.

        Goddammit I love Kanye generally but this is some bullshit.

      • With all due respect, Oh Great Talon-ed One, I approved of “Blame Game” back in 2010 because it was an awesome sounding tune. I did of course assume that Aphex would be compensated along with King Crimson and Smokey Robinson and anyone else whose work was sampled on the album. But I don’t see the need to get “up in arms” about this. Mr. D. James is a man of means, and if he is really upset about this – which he doesn’t really seem to be – he can always have his people sue Kanye’s people, settling the affairs of the bourgeois as they have always been settled.

        • You’re fine dansolo. I understand what you were saying, I just jumped onto ya for generalizing the OH GREAT RDJ as merely “someone.” I’ve been to heaven thanks to the “Richard D. James Album” so it’s easy for me to get heated when he gets marginalized…

          …which is the reason I’m so heated here. It’s not because he didn’t get paid or paid enough. It’s this line right here: “It’s not yours, it’s ours, and we’re not even asking you any more.”

          Of course RDJ is cool with it. This is mere human squabble that his godlike brain rounds down on the regular. To me, it was a shock to see that Kanye’s camp would be so disrespectful to the truly Great One himself.

          • What proves RDJ really is a four-dimensional mind trapped in our three-dimensional world is that his response to K. West & Co. stealing his track was basically “if you’re going to steal my shit at least let me help you so it sounds right.” I wonder if the cold response had to do with RDJ calling some of the industry’s most talented producers on an amateur lift job.

          • Yeah that part is some classic RDJ trolling:

            “because they’d sampled it really badly and time-stretched it and there was loads of artifacts”

            LOADS of artifacts!

            I think if anything this story goes to show that the world has severely missed RDJ. We need that man’s genius right now.

        • And for the record, I don’t have any beef with “Blame Game”. I think it’s perfectly sequenced (HERE I GO AGAIN) as a great comedown after the enormous highs “Devil In A New Dress” , “Runaway” and “Hell Of A Life” reach. That run of 3 songs is my favorite part of the album, so I even appreciate Chris Rock extending “Blame Game” out to its 7:49 run time. Gives me enough time to calm the fuck down (“Hell Of A Life” gets me so incredibly hyped).

          But of course, the best part about “Blame Game” is that timeless Aphex Twin sample.

          • Agreed. RDJ is one of the great interviewees of our time. I’m glad he’s making music again and would love to see more shots fired between him and Kanye. That’s just great entertainment. OWWWOOOOOOOO!

  8. Exhibit 1000,001 that Kanye is a fucking tool.

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  10. I wonder how much Kanye actually had to do with his camp being so disrespectful to RDJ about the sample. Afterall, he’s known for giving every single person that is even remotely affiliated with a song their credit. Everybody is listed for their contributions from Sabbath, for a single vocal melody, to that dude from Salem, from Elton’s voice mixed in with dozens of others to John Legend doing the vocoder-flute-noise-thingy on Jesus Walks. James is listed in the credits for the album. and hey, If you’re a fan of electronic music, you know the track already. And if you aren’t and own the album or have access to the internet, you can find it and listen to it. Kanye’s got taste enough to sample this guy, along with Can, King Crimson and Daft Punk. I’d like to think he respects the artists he samples. Do yall really think it was as black and white as Kanye confronting James, claiming the song was magically written by him? I don’t think so. Kanye’s team of attorneys probably needs to wisen-up, though. Way I see it though, the context behind how the song came to be doesn’t affect it in anyway whatsoever. You could have told me Avril 14 was a Macklemore and Toby Keith collaboration that Kanye stole from Just Blaze who stole it from Macklemore who stole it from RDJ who stole it from Brian Eno. All i know is that, in the end, it sounds great. And it is certainly no fluke that all 6 of his albums are.. well.. great.

    • Yeah, sure, it’s Kanye just giving credit where credit is due as the great and generous artist that he is and not lawyers and corporate clearance people doing due diligence in order to pre-empt a potentially costly future lawsuit precipitated by this jackass’s “never heard a good idea that wasn’t his” wanton pillaging.

      • never heard a good idea that wasn’t his, yeah? that’s a bit illogical, man. This guy has a sample in 90% of his tracks. You really think he sits around listening to all of these different records without an ounce of respect or enthusiasm towards the original artist? You really think he’s delusional enough to sit there and say “Can wrote this.. King Crimson wrote this….. nah, i don’t believe it. this song is mine.” What are you getting at with your ridiculous hyperbole? I’m just trying to understand. Show me the album of his that has all of these credit-less, stolen songs. Is there even a single Kanye track with a “stolen” melody? Have you seen the credits for the writing, production, and samples on MBDTF and Yeezus, for chrissakes? 6 producers, 14 writers, and 3 sample sources on “Power”… 10 producers and 10 writers on “Black Skinhead”.. 8 different producers and 8 different writes on “Bloond on the Leaves”… Now does this sound like a guy who actually thinks he’s “never heard a good idea that wasn’t his”? Kanye’s camp handled the situation poorly, yeah no shit. I think this was less a personal conflict between two men and more about a team of cold-hearted corporate goons fumbling an important ball.

        • lol “bloond on the leaves”… “8 different writes”… probably wouldn’t have hurt to have proof-read that before i clicked submit. oh well, you get the point

          • Credit is given because it legally has to be given. Kanye ain’t selling mixtapes out of the trunk of his car. This is high-profile big business. If writing credit is not given and settlements and aren’t made beforehand then judges and juries will end up apportioning the proceeds.

            If you can fill in the gaps on RDJ’s anecdote, Kanye tried to pass it off as his own, but the track somehow made its way to RDJ anyway. Who do you think that was? A carrier pigeon or the legal department of Kanye’s record label?

          • kind of seems like you’re getting away from the original point you were trying to make. I’m well aware that credit legally has to be given to the appropriate people. That’s common sense. What I was implying, was that he gives credit to people even when it isn’t mandatory. With that said, if Kanye had successfully “stolen” the Avril 14 track and passed it off as his own, it would be the first Kanye track in history to be stolen and improperly handled and credited. Something about it just sounds fishy to me. Like i said though, if everything happened exactly like RDJ said it did, somebody fucked up, and it’s not cool.

  11. I think Kanye may have met his match

  12. I honestly think what probably happened was that they were trying to meet the album deadline and decided to re-create the sample themselves (sort of like how they recreated the sample used in “On Sight”), and whoever played the middleman between Kanye’s camp and RDJ was just an asshole. Also, it’s entirely possible that Kanye didn’t even know it was a sample. It is a pretty obscure song and there were dozens of people working with Kanye on the album.

    or maybe I’m just a huge Kanye fanboy. Either way, I love that RDJ doesn’t gave a shit and just laughs it off.

  13. Anybody who has been following RDJ as long as I have knows that some of what has already been detailed in those two interviews is him taking the piss. I mean, come on, that’s just how he rolls. Trying to figure out what’s true and what’s not is, as always, the fun part.

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  15. Also, damn! Count me excited that there’s new RDJ/Aphex Twin news on a regular basis. It’s a huge rush and brings back some great memories.

  16. Lastly, I ain’t even gonna chime in on the Kanye thing. This is an Aphex Twin thread… Kanye who?

  17. “I just need Warp or someone to come around and say, ‘Come on, let’s fucking get these things out.’”

    Um, Warp? Please hire me to harass the shit out of RDJ. I would be amazing at that job.

    • That’s one of the things I don’t believe, though. Rephlex is (or was) notorious for moving slowly when releasing material, as well. More than one artist has commented on it in the past. I don’t believe for one second that nobody at Warp asked for something to release in the last 13 years. Nah.

  18. It’s kinda sad to see an article where the highlight of commentary centers on the monthly douchebag moves of a self absorbed ego maniac that is Kayne West when lightly dropped into the informational paragraph reads…. “James has a few more albums in the works.” I find that much more interesting.

  19. Notice how James refers to Kanye as “they”, not “he”. Further proof that Kanye West is nothing but a promotional face for a marketable product developed by a team of faceless brains. It’s okay when pop artists are hyped about for being pop artists, but Kanye West is worshipped as some sort of breakthrough creator that transcends both the mainstream and the underground. I don’t see it. I don’t see it at all.

    • yeah man, you probably haven’t heard a full Kanye West record then. and if his music IS a team of faceless brains (it’s not btw) developing a marketable product that millions of idiots eat up every single time, then why don’t any other current pop stars record albums of that caliber? Do the “faceless brains” just put in extra work because it’s a Kanye record? You do realize how many NON-faceless brains Kanye collaborates with on these albums, right? Know why the track “Dark Fantasy” knocks so hard? Yeah, that’s because it’s a RZA/Kanye/No I.D. collab. Ever wonder why “Send it Up” is such a banger? Oh shit, Kanye overseeing Daft Punk, Gessafelstein and Arca. Something tells me (..logic tells me..) there isn’t some guy at Def Jam headquarters making up all this ingenious shit, either. No one but Kanye is capable of producing a Kanye record. It’s insulting to him and his fans to assume that the guy has a bunch of random people putting his albums together for the sole purpose of stacking money. Also, it makes you look really ignorant.

  20. Such a shameless rip-off, Aphex is one of the only REAL musicians which’s like 100 years ahead of our time

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