It's Tough Being Totally Extinct
Over the last couple of weeks, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs has been hailed in some quarters as the latest revelation in electronic dance music. As the mastermind behind the project, Orlando Higginbottom has joined the ranks of those in the vanguard of the prevailing house revival. With his pop hooks and appeal, he somehow manages to strike that precarious balance between radio airplay and creative credibility. His live shows are known for their regular tidal waves of confetti, he's already collaborated with the likes of Lady Gaga and Damon Albarn, and his debut album Trouble is out now.
Orlando isn't just adept when it comes to making music. His current collaboration with ADAM&YOU makes that more than clear. The result is his brand new music video, in which he presents how ADAM inspired him with totally unique visual overload. So you should absolutely watch the brand new making-of video before you dig into the interview.
VICE: Hi Orlando, you're on the cover of the new issue of the French magazine TSUGi. It's your first time on a cover. What does it feel like?
Orlando Higginbottom: It's quite strange but really fun, actually. Really exciting.
Do you feel like a pop star now?
Not at all?
No. Not really, I don't think so.
But all this attention, does it change you in some way?
You know, that magazine in France, I don't pick it up and I don't see it in the newsagent. A lot of those things happen without me seeing them anyway. So it's not too strange.
Is life as a musician as you'd expected it to be?
Yes. I mean, I didn't really expect anything in particular. I just knew that I wanted to do music and doing that a lot of the time is great. But I'm very, very busy all the time. That came quite unexpected.
So would you consider being a musician to be a job?
It's a job, it's definitely real work. Because I care a lot about it and I put a lot of time into it. And sometimes it's fun, sometimes it's horrible, but always work.
If music is such hard work for you, what was it like to do your first record?
It took me a while and it was quite hard, definitely. It took me a year and a half. At that time I didn't know what kind of album I wanted to make and whether I'd be able to finish it, and whether I'd be happy with it. But eventually it was a good experience and I've learned a lot from it. For a first album I'm very happy with it.
You're album is called Trouble. Why?
I called it Trouble because "Trouble" is the one track on the album that sums up for me the character and the common theme – lyrically – of the record. And actually, "trouble" as a word, I wanted to put in every single song, because I really like singing it.
When you listen to it now do you still find passages or things that you would do differently? Or are you just fine with the way it is?
I certainly listen to my songs and think about how I could have done things differently, but a lot of the time I think that my music is about what happened at that moment and that's what you're capturing. So you could go on and on and on changing it, and in some ways it would get better and in some ways it would get worse. You just have to draw a line at some point and say: “Alright, that's finished.”
But you do have the opportunity to change them when you play live. Do you do that?
Yes, I change everything. Always.
I saw your video for the new single “American Dream Part II”. I was wondering, if you sometimes feel silly during the shooting. I mean, everything looks stunning in the end, with all the costumes, when it's all finished. But when I imagine being put in a huge collar made of feathers and being painted with glitter...
Well, everything looks rubbish and sounds rubbish when it's half done. And the costumes are rubbish when they're half done. But that's kind of what creating is. That's part of the creative process. When you're writing and you've got half a sentence, it doesn't work. You just have to have faith in it that it will work in the end.
Do you have a concrete idea of how you want everything to look in the end?
Oh yes. I mean, a broad idea. But you never know, really, what it's gonna end up like. For example, with that video; although I knew how I wanted it to be and it was my idea.
When you wear your costumes on stage, do you adopt some sort of alter ego?
No, there's no character or alter ego. It's still me. If I wasn't wearing a costume, I'd still behave exactly the same way. I just like wearing costumes.
Does it mean you're interested in fashion, read fashion magazines, and go to fashion shows and all that stuff too?
I don't read fashion magazines. Occasionally I've been invited to go to fashion shows which I really enjoy. When I started with all that, I really wasn't into fashion at all. It seemed like a world I'd never really understand. But when I started making outfits with people, I started getting interested in clothes.
And have you ever thought of doing a collection yourself?
Why not? I mean, if it's fun for you to think of outfits and you're interested in the way clothes are made, you could do the creative work.
OK. If you're gonna pay for it...
You should consider it. I really like your stage outfits, I think I would like to wear something inspired by them.