Interview: Scissor Sisters headline Wickerman festival 2012
Collaborations, Calvin Harris, Olympics and new album Magic Hour
Having officially launched their fourth album Magic Hour at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire in May, enduring festival favourites Scissor Sisters will play only two more shows in the UK this summer: one at the Wickerman Festival in Dumfries and Galloway, and then representing the USA at the Olympic-themed BT River of Music festival in the shadow of the Tower of London the next day.
Speaking to the Scissors’ guitarist Babydaddy on the line from his hotel room in London a few days after the Shepherd’s Bush shows, The List asks – why Wickerman? ‘It’s a way for us to get over there,’ he says. ‘We’re planning to do the full festival circuit next summer, but it sounds fun, it should be interesting. I don’t know a lot about it, have you been?’ The List sure has. You know they burn a big pagan wickerman at the end in tribute to the film, right? ‘Wow. That’s all I need to know.’
He is also unaware that newfound Scissors associate Calvin Harris grew up only a few miles from the site of the festival, blowing away our suspicion that they were playing it on the back of a recommendation. ‘Oh, Calvin’s too busy DJing to come to things like this anyway,’ he laughs. Harris’ collaboration with the group on the new album, the summery, synthesised pop of ‘Only the Horses’, is a direct result of his meeting Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears when they worked together on Kylie Minogue’s album Aphrodite. ‘He’s “the Rihanna guy” to a lot of people,’ says Babydaddy, ‘but I know Jake was a fan of his before all that. They share a love of dance music and having a good time.’
While the record itself doesn’t boast as many immediate pop stormers as ‘Comfortably Numb’, ‘Filthy/Gorgeous’ or ‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’’ – aside from perhaps the pumping samba hi-NRG of ‘Let’s Have a Kiki’ – he’s right when he says it’s unmistakeably a Scissor Sisters record. ‘It feels like the spirit if this band, and that’s no small thing having been around for so long – for ten years now. It’s the perfect kind of pop album in my book, it sounds like who we are, but it’s an evolution. It’s a big hybrid of all the people and things we love right now.’
Among them, and alongside Harris, are a roster of guest producers and artists including Diplo and Stuart ‘Les Rythmes Digitales’ Price. ‘We wanted to work with new people,’ says Babydaddy. ‘People who know how to collaborate and allow us to be Scissor Sisters without pushing their own agenda. That’s the kind of producer Pharrell Williams is. He was interested in giving us a new sound while holding onto what we are. Azealia Banks, on the other hand, we had known her for years, we have the same management. We heard “212” and we thought, she’s finally doing something, she’s great, and so we brought her in.’
Even after a decade, it doesn’t stop here – there will be a UK tour in the autumn, and there’s a possibility the next album will be a greatest hits. So does Babydaddy believe that Shears and Ana Matronic, one of pop’s great performing partnerships, can keep doing this forever? ‘God, I hope not,’ he laughs. ‘I really hope we age gracefully, but then there are worse ways to die than dancing on a stage. Joking aside, I think those two are going to keep hogging the spotlight for as long as they can.’
Scissor Sisters play the Wickerman Festival, East Kirkcarswell, near Dundrennan, Fri 20 Jul. Barrowlands, Glasgow, Fri 19 Oct.