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Crusty Old Punk Producer Steve Albini Hates on Dance Music, Gets Trolled by Powell

The XL Recordings artist turned the Nirvana engineer's vitriolic tirade into a billboard.

by Alexander Iadarola
Sep 29 2015, 9:02pm

In a very small niche of the electronic music world, promoting your new single with an email from Steve Albini—a notoriously vitriolic '90s underground rock purist known for hating on almost anything and everything—indirectly talking shit about you and your music is an extremely effective way to promote a new single. UK-based artist Powell—head of Diagonal Records—is one of the foremost producers in this gritty niche where knowledge of underground rock and noise meets a love of purposeful club music, and he's the lucky recipient of said email, The Quietus reports.

It all started when Powell sought clearance of a vocal sample from one of Albini's bands, Big Black, for his forthcoming single on XL Recordings, entitled "Insomniac." In his email to Albini, Powell explained how much Big Black's music meant to him and tried to offer a sense of the kind of music he himself made, including links to previously released tracks. Albini responded in ever-blunt fashion with the following:

Hey Oscar.

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. I haven't bothered listening to the links, mainly because I'm in a hotel with crappy internet at the moment but also because it probably wouldn't be to my taste and that wouldn't help either of us.

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.

Steve

In a bit of a takes-two-to-tango move, Powell responded asking if it would be alright to use the email in the video for the single, to which Albini curtly replied, "Still don't care." As of today, XL has put up a billboard containing the email transcript in East London—viewable above, with Powell amused before it—promoting "Insomniac," which will be the artist's second single for the label after "Sylvester Stallone," released earlier this year.

Image Credit: Jen Long on Twitter.

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Steve Albini
xl recordings
powell