Selected Ambient Words: Life with the Aphex Twin 1992-1995

Richard as I remember him with his Synthi. 
I first met the Aphex Twin on  Surbiton High street, early summer '92. I had just graduated from Kingston along with the classmate sitting on the pavement next to him, a graphic designer we  called "Nobby".
Nobby's ambition was to be a robot. Stakker Humanoid was his 7am wake up call.
He designed the iconic Aphex logo (hand drawn in marker), which Richard bought the rights to for £500, by turns honourable and savvy.

By summers end I was living below him on Southgate Road, then a no mans between Dalston and Islington. Nobby myself and two college mates took the downstairs, whilst Richard lived upstairs with his delightful girlfriend Sam, a pretty Cornish flower child. 
Across the road was a crack den.


Sam escapes to Clissold Park 1994.


That first year was relatively civilized, Initially, I had no idea the magnitude of Richard's talent, but, working in my room below his home studio, it was soon unavoidable. The "Techno Mozart" by 21.
I'd recently worked for Saint Etienne, and when I mentioned him, their jaws dropped. They asked if I could get him to remix them, I couldn't get him to do anything, but I did pass on the request and he obliged them with this.

After a  year on Southgate Road, we were turfed out by our landlords, deposits withheld. Filth, damage.

We decamped sans Nobby to nearby Stoke Newington, all thrown together in a terraced house with Richard recording in a tiny cockpit at its heart.  Here things  took a grimier cast. He was now famous and the house was abused by a stream of visitors, like a techno Lord of the Flies. The vibe was 3am Eternal -always in a smoky murk, none of us had jobs to rise for.

Music poured out of him, hunched over tweeked analogue gear, a beige mac, and a DAT machine. One such machine, which had failed, was swiftly splintered and strewn over the garden path, a taster of the chaos within.

Day and night the sound of a mammoth with it's balls on fire would rip through the house at curdling volume, Soon the neighbours lodged a petition. When that failed, they lobbed stones at the windows. This brought the air of siege paranoia to the place. One flat mate installed 2 inch wide iron bars on all the windows. A less fragrant of our order caught Scabies, something I thought had died out with urchins and rickets. We all itched along to the docs to find miraculously we'd avoided the pox.

The landlord, Mr Hussain -who punctuated every sentence with "as it happens", said nothing of the decline and kept cashing the cheques.

I made a shaky video for Elastica in my bedroom which came 2nd in some NME award. Richard's video for ON, directed by Jarvis Cocker won. Deservedly so as it happens.

We all made exceptions for Richard, he never did the dishes. One of the myths about him, which I believe, is that he could lucid dream music- a total connection to creativity. The white heat.
He conjured all hues of Heaven and Hell, with an infinite sonic palette.  One day, sick with food poisoning I retched the ghosts of every meal I'd ever eaten. He recorded my heavings to add to some horrific creation.
In the wake of Dummy by Portishead he made a slew of beautiful, haunting music that sounded like a celestial ice cream truck. Like this.

He wasn't hampered by any need to please others, be famous or wealthy. At one point, mid 90's, Madonna wanted to work with him. He ignored her people, finally she phoned him to get the short answer. One of the later remixes he did for cash was a limp Lemonheads song, he didn't bother listening to the track, just pulled some random tune from his enormous stockpile. He told the record company that he'd compressed their entire song in to the sound of a hi hat! Did I mention he was a genius?

By late '95 the neighbours upped their bombardment of the house in protest of a set of earsores that Richard was spinning. He was gleeful of the havoc.
I left for less challenging territory.

Soon after Richard did the honorable thing and bought a bank to live in with a vault for a studio.