Interview: Dan Le Sac

12 November 2012

Dan Le Sac talks to Tristram Fane Saunders about testicles, thighs and Joanna Newsom.

Does Cambridge have a music scene?

It has a scene – we’ve played there before. But there are some towns that thrive off the music, and some have other things to do. Like learning. And I get the feeling that people in Cambridge, from time to time, like to learn stuff.

Are you a learner, Dan? What’s the last thing you learnt?

I learnt that I could play Pachelbel’s Canon on the piano, and I didn’t know I could. I was just tinkling around on the piano, I’m not a great pianist, and the chords came out – by the way, they’re the same chords as Dream’s Things Can Only Get Better – and then I started to get the melody. I was like, “Hang on, I shouldn’t be able to do this. I make electronic dance music – where the hell’s the classical coming from?”

What prompted you to ‘go solo’?

I’d been making loads of music, and so some people said I should release an album, and I was just, “What, me? On my own?”

But you’ve made solo albums before…

I’ve done an EP, and there was some kid who leaked various bootlegged bits of my stuff as a torrent, and called it ‘Questionable Output’, but no full albums until now.

Speaking of questionable output: your music with Scroobius Pip. It tends to divide the critics, and when they criticise it, it’s generally Pip’s lyrics that they dislike, not your music. Do you think your music stands up better on its own?

That was even more intensified with the second album. People would write loads about what Pip said and then put one small paragraph about the music at the end, which was normally complimentary. But we both like what Pip does, and the music was written to work with that – I can’t hear those pieces without hearing his lyrics. I love working with him, and I’m excited about working on our third album together later this year.

You’ve got loads of collaborators on ‘Space Between The Words’ . Who would you like to get as a contributors for the next one?

Really obvious people: Thom Yorke, PJ Harvey, Cat Power. Joanna Newsom – I’d love to get her on a record. I’d love to just meet her, but she’s too pretty for me. At any Joanna Newsom gig, it’s just a lot of bearding men looking at her and going, “awww… she’s looovvveeelllyyyy.”

You and Scroobius Pip used to be agony-uncles for ‘Reset’ (a magazine put out by anti-suicide charity ‘Calm’). What was that like?

It was weird. It was fun to do, and because we’ve both been affected by male suicide, it was really important for us to do stuff with ‘Calm.’ But there was this sudden realisation that if people are asking these questions, they might actually pay attention to the answers. I’d been making jokes, and saying mildly offensive things, then I realised – ‘Oh! I actually have to make some kind of sense here.’

Why the name? Why ‘Dan Le Sac’?

Scroobius Pip’s name is clever – it’s all about this undefinable creature. Mine isn’t. Mine is about testicles. As a small boy, my brothers used to call me ‘Sack Boy,’ because I had a hernia. It’s just one of those things that stuck with me. But now I have moved on, slightly. I used to do stuff under the name of Harry Palmer, which is Michael Caine’s character in ‘The Ipcress File’, but I stopped that.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you lately?

I’ve lost a lot of weight, which is a good thing, but now my trousers keep falling down. Genuinely. This has happened about four times in the last two weeks. I had this weird thing where I’d just sat down on the bus, and the trousers had slipped down, and somehow they’d made my boxer shorts underwear had ridden up, so I had this sort of “boxer short, flesh, trouser” combination. But I didn’t notice it until a girl looked at me funny. Then what made it worse is she tweeted about it – “I’ve just seen Dan Le Sac’s thigh.” Who does that, rather than just saying, “excuse me, I can see your leg.” I only realised when I saw her tweet.