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30 April 2023

Daniel Avery’s Q&A: “I’m fascinated by the professional wrestling world”

The electronic music producer and DJ on faith, The Sopranos and culture war fanatics.

By New Statesman

Daniel Avery was born in Reading in 1985. An electronic music producer and DJ, he first performed under the name Stopmakingme. He has collaborated with Metronomy and Kelly Lee Owens.

What’s your earliest memory?

Standing next to my grandmother as she put coins into a slot machine. I was captivated by the lights and loud noises, which seemed to be controlled by the buttons I was pressing. My path was set at an early stage.

Who are your heroes?

As a kid, Kurt Cobain and David Ginola. Today I feel inspired by Björk, Trent Reznor, Scott Walker, Andrew Weatherall and other artists who create their own worlds and continually add to them.

What book last changed your thinking?

In my early twenties I fell into the standard trappings of ardent atheism but that has since shifted. Seán O’Hagan’s conversations with Nick Cave in Faith, Hope and Carnage have had a profound effect on me. The way Cave talks about the search for faith made me feel like a different person.

Which political figure do you look up to?

I don’t live by “the rules”. If there’s one other person who’s influenced me in the way I think, someone who is a maverick, someone who does that to the system, it’s Ian Botham.

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What would be your “Mastermind” specialist subject?

World Wrestling Federation vs World Championship Wrestling from 1995 to 2001, or the “Monday Night Wars”, as it is often known. I’m fascinated by the construct of the professional wrestling world. Everything is an illusion and everyone is “in on the gag”. Yet the show can only work if all those involved knowingly suspend their disbelief. I suppose you could say the same about DJing: a nerdy record collector standing behind a table doesn’t feel like much when in a vacuum.

[See also: The conservatism of Nick Cave]

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In which time and place, other than your own, would you like to live?

I’d love to have watched the Velvet Underground in Warhol’s Factory, lost myself in the Haçienda, or been the first to walk into a room of Rothko paintings.

What TV show could you not live without?

It’s safe to say that the majority of life’s mysteries are covered by The Sopranos,and The Simpsons seasons two to nine.

Who would paint your portrait?

Andrew Wyeth. There’s an inviting darkness to everything he painted.

What’s your theme tune?

“Laura Palmer’s Theme” on an endless loop. Backwards, if you like.

[See also: The best New Statesman interviews of 2022]

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

A learned friend and fellow producer once told me that he treasured “bad” days in the studio as much as the good ones.

What’s currently bugging you?

Culture war nutters, Brexiteers, shy Tories, proud Tories and that David Cameron got away with ripping this country in two.

What single thing would make your life better?

More hours in the day. Failing that a Rickenbacker 4000 guitar, please.

When were you happiest?

No one tells you when you’re young that life feels increasingly uncertain the older you become. Yet I’ve learned to take that as a positive; everyone is only ever doing their best. Once I discovered this, I felt free. I can safely say I’ve never been happier than right now.

Are we all doomed?

Of course we are, but that’s the most beautiful part of life: we don’t have long together, so let’s make the most of it.

Daniel Avery’s latest album is “Ultra Truth” (Phantasy Sound). He will perform at Wide Awake Festival in London on 27 May

[See also: Jemima Khan on 110 years of the New Statesman: “I felt bad about my Nick Clegg interview”]

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This article appears in the 03 May 2023 issue of the New Statesman, Beneath the Crown