Legendary producer, engineer and musician Steve Albini—notorious mensch and grouch—does not like electronic dance music, but he also doesn’t care if you use his songs to create your own! Big Black, Shellac, and Rapeman might not seem the prime candidates for a dance beat, but electronic artist Oscar Powell, a.k.a. “Powell” was such a huge Big Black fan that he wrote to Albini requesting permission to sample a clip for a track called “Insomniac.” Albini gave Powell his blessing, but only after telling him exactly how he felt about club culture and electronic dance beats.
Sounds like you’ve got a cool thing set up for yourself. I am absolutely the wrong audience for this kind of music. I’ve always detested mechanized dance music, its stupid simplicity, the clubs where it was played, the people who went to those clubs, the drugs they took, the shit they liked to talk about, the clothes they wore, the battles they fought amongst each other…
Basically all of it: 100 percent hated every scrap.
The electronic music I liked was radical and different, shit like the White Noise, Xenakis, Suicide, Kraftwerk, and the earliest stuff form Cabaret Voltaire, SPK and DAF. When that scene and those people got co-opted by dance/club music I felt like we’d lost a war. I detest club culture as deeply as I detest anything on earth. So I am against what you’re into, and an enemy of where you come from but I have no problem with what you’re doing…
In other words, you’re welcome to do whatever you like with whatever of mine you’ve gotten your hands on. Don’t care. Enjoy yourself.
Powell found the message so funny, he then asked if he could use it to promote the album. Albini wrote back “Still don’t care,” so now the email has been reproduced on a billboard in east London, which you can see (but barely read) above. Honestly, it’s a hell of an endorsement despite Albini’s total disdain for the music!
If you actually do care, you can hear “Insomniac” below. It starts up at 31:33.