In a super rare long-form interview, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has offered an insight into what to expect from this year's impending solo record, as well as touching upon the possibility of releasing a special edition package to celebrate Kid A's 20th anniversary next year.
Throughout the incredibly well-written feature with Crack Magazine, which you should 100% dive into and read right now, Yorke discusses the theme of his upcoming solo record, which he describes as a "dystopian" record delving into his anxieties about the modern world - which is really nothing new for the Radiohead frontman, let's be honest.
"The dystopian thing is one part of it, yes, but for me, one of the big, prevailing things was a sense of anxiety. If you suffer from anxiety it manifests itself in unpredictable ways, some people have over-emotional reactions. [For] some people the roots of reality can just get pulled out, you don’t know what’s happening. Then eventually, reality comes back. For some reason, I thought a really good way of expressing anxiety creatively was in a dystopian environment."
Yorke also goes on to explain the influence of Aphex Twin and enigmatic electro-jazz artist Flying Lotus upon the creative process of the record, particularly through the way in which the latter improvises upon loops and samples in the context of a live show.
"We watched Flying Lotus in the early years on tour with us, and we watched him with his live set-up performing all his loops and thought, ‘Well that’s interesting,’ because it’s a live performance, he’s improvising. We suddenly realised this is a new way to write stuff. I would send [Nigel Godrich] completely unfinished, sprawling tracks and he would focus in on the bits and pieces that he thought would work, build them up into samples and loops, and then throw them back at me, where I would start writing vocals."
The Radiohead frontman also teases that the band are planning "something really cool" with an unsurfaced cache of art, diary entries and recordings from around the era in which Kid A and Amnesiac were recorded.
"I’ve been going through the Kid A and Amnesiac stuff with the others. We were all a bit mad by the end of that period. We went through the whole crazy OK Computer period and I became catatonic at the end of it. Then we worked really hard for a year and a half with really not that many breaks and it was really intense. We didn’t know what the fuck we were doing, and I was refusing to rehearse anything! Imagine, if you will, the chaos.
I recently found this box file of all the faxes I was sending and receiving from Stanley [Donwood, visual artist] about the artwork and they’re hilarious. I’ve got all this stuff, pages and pages and photocopies, that I just left strewn around the studios. Nigel picked them up and thought, ‘We’d better keep these.’"
The career-spanning interview, which you can read here, also sees Yorke discuss his passions for politics, the environment, his recent classical concert series and more.
Revisit our rundown of Radiohead's game-changing record OK Computer.