Philth and Agman Gora: ‘Cordyceps’
Many deep topics are covered in our exchange with Philth and Agman Gora, not least the connection between everyday pub snacks and immortality. There’s probably a youtube cult based in the centre of America devoted to just this.
Philth: Brain fungus. A cordyceps is a parasitic fungus that infects the brain of insects and takes over their body and mind. Kind of like D&B has done to me actually.
AG: ‘Cordyceps’ is about a parasitic fungus that affects different types of insects, invading the host and redirecting them like something from a zombie film…
Bit of a weird thing to be making a D&B tune about, but why not?
I think the main thing is that it’s not another song about f*cking weed, know what I mean?
When did the lyrics arise?
A: I wrote the bars whilst watching a documentary about Cordyceps. I love the idea of zombies and the parallels struck me instantly so I wrote the lyrics from the point of view of the fungus itself, providing the listener with only two options:
1) Listen to me.
2) Turn it off.
Both ways I’ve affected that person for the amount of time they heard it, whether they liked it or not!
There’s probably some sort of Freudian indication that I’m a vindictive murderer there but I can’t be bothered to work it out.
P: I got a text from Agman, he said he had written some new lyrics and he thought I might be interested. He then said the lyrics were inspired by David Attenborough and that was it for me, I was fully committed before I even knew what the tune was about.
I am a total nature geek, I’m actually watching Attenborough’s new series, The Hunt, as I type this.
The video! You know what: this track gets in and sticks in there and the video does that too, it’s weird. It’s like an afterimage burned into the retina after looking at a bright light. It’s very haunting. Agman’s like a figure from a David Lynch film. I expect him to step out of the telly into the room I’m in…
P: The video was shot and directed by Andy Commons and between him and Agman they came up with the concept. My contribution was something profound like “yeah, put loads of dead ants in there”.
The video really came together in the editing stage and we worked with Andy to hone the dirty decayed vibe. The video feels intense, unsettling and hypnotic – perfect for the music.
AG: The video is just me being me really. I wanted more of Phil in it but then it’d would’ve had to be an 18 certificate due to his persistent, disgraceful nudity.
I’ll take that David Lynch comment as a huge compliment!
Unless you’re talking about elephant man? In which case how dare you!
I love the idea that I could step out of your TV and you wouldn’t find it surprising! Most people would call the police.
So take us behind the tune and when did it come about? You guys have obviously worked before together in some killer collabs/capacities, so you must get on great making music ‘around’ each other.
P: We’ve been friends for years, we actually met sharing the mic as garage MCs back in the late 90s. Knowing each other for so long means we aren’t afraid to be honest when talking about our musical ideas… and not shy to take the piss out of each other either.
All our work comes from bouncing concepts off each other and we will happily tell each other if we think an idea is shit! We are both at a point where we want to write music that has a theme or a concept, it has to mean something.
We’re deadly serious when it comes to the art, but in reality we act like a pair of clowns so it’s always fun. Alex has a good way of putting it: “if you look like we do you can’t take yourself too seriously” and I think that comes across when we perform live. A pair of serious idiots.
AG: Me and Phil are both huge fans of the number one badman David Attenborough, so when I was watching the documentary about Cordyceps and I was completely inspired I knew exactly who to contact!
We work really well and we have a great understanding – I think it’s because we’ve known each other a long time and we’ve been through a lot together. We spent most of the 90’s as escorts on the Kings Road.
Actually name some previous collabs that you guys have done, for people new.
P: We started off with ‘Nightmare Box’, which was original recorded by the punk band that Agman was fronting at the time… that was then given an incredible half-time remix from J:Kenzo, which dBridge has supported in his sets and podcasts.
Then we were recording vocals for a samplepack for AutomAte, and this powerful chant stood out to me, and ended up becoming ‘Incantation’ on my Cosmos EP on Dispatch. We almost gave the vocals away for free by accident!
Since then we’ve recorded lots more, but I work very slowly so these tunes are just working their way into my sets in their early form. I played one for the first time at a recent gig in Bristol. Alex had never heard it so it was great for me to see his reaction in the rave!
Thankfully he didn’t tell me it was sh*t.
AG: ‘Incantation’, which came out on Dispatch this year, ‘Time Machine’ which came out the same time as ‘Cordyceps’ and ‘Nightmare Box’, which had a massive remix from the man like J:Kenzo… both are available for free download. I’m sure there’s more and I’m just being a div!
We’ve also got a load more we’re working on at the moment…
With some of your titles I feel that psychic states factor heavily in your work. So are we all asleep and this is all a dream? How do you personally evaluate our time here on this planet? Do you believe in life after death/displacement of energy into the universe or is it just a simple case that we come back reincarnated as potatoes?
P: If we come back as potatoes does that mean a packet of crisps is actually a bag of souls?
I don’t think that this life is a dream, but I do think that humans vastly overrate our own importance. We’ve come to a point where humanity think it owns the planet… I would like to see people have more awareness of nature and respect for the planet, we are a greedy species, and very selfish.
I believe there is more to life than just working 9-5 and accumulating possessions, when I commute into work in central London in the mornings I look at all the people rushing to get into work…. we are just overgrown ants scuttling of to generate more money so we can buy the latest ‘must have’ products.
I feel that life experience and learning is more important than possessions, and I try to avoid consumerism. I’m more interested in reading a new book than shopping.
A: I think that if you believe in reincarnation in a religious sense you come back as a used dildo and if you don’t believe in it you come back as someone that doesn’t believe in it…
That way religion will eventually die out completely and for a small period there will be a lot more dildos.
I mean, there’s already loads more dildos than before and if that isn’t proof I’m right then I don’t know what is.
Onto other tracks here take us through ‘Time Machine’, a killer. This needs a video: swirls of cosmic dust and solar winds with you guys spinning about in a Victorian device?
P: Or maybe I go back in time and make the tune before Alex has even written the lyrics and then he hears himself on a tune that he hasn’t even recorded yet? Except he has also been back in time so he knew that I was going to go back in time and make the ‘Time Machine’ track before the lyrics existed?
Space-time rave nonsense…
A: I’m really happy with this one, I’ve had more positive feedback from ‘Time Machine’ than I have from all the other tunes I’ve worked on put together! I would’ve loved to have done a video for it but the concept is so big that we wouldn’t have been able to afford it.
Oh, can you get any cosmic dust? How much a for a gram?
So what are some videos you yourself really dig… D&B, beats, name any.
AG: I love all the ‘Jilted Generation’ era Prodigy videos… ‘Born Free’ by MIA is sick and ‘Treat Me Like Your Mother’ by The Dead Weather.
Oh, and porn. With music in, OBVS.
P: Ashes and Snow by Gregory Colbert. It’s a feature film but it doesn’t have a plot, it shows animals and humans interacting with each other, set to music with poetry. It’s completely immersive.
When it comes to D&B to be honest I don’t think we do videos very well! The video content often has very little to do with the music.
Two labels that do have really strong videos are Exit Records and Critical… ‘Marka’ was very memorable, ‘Creator’ was good, the Alix Perez ‘U’ video was cool. I also really like ‘The View’ by DRS, it perfectly captures the message.
Any shouts and dates for the ep? Is it out?
AG: Yeah, shout out to Jonole’s mum, George and Steve at AutomAte and Jenny for changing my catheter without grimacing.
P: Yes, ‘Cordyceps’ & ‘Time Machine’ is out now on AutomAte, so big shout goes out to George and Steve.