[MUSIC: Interview] Francis Inferno Orchestra
Griffin James has been back in the country less than 72 hours and he’s already basically homeless. Worse still, his vinyl collection has been attacked. The man better known as electronic project Francis Inferno Orchestra arrived back in Melbourne only to find he’d been booted. “It wasn’t as nasty as it sounds, because I was living with my dad. It was a pretty chilled deal, and I had a pretty large amount of space to work in. But then I came home from two months of touring through Europe to find the house is getting sold, so I have to move way out to the ‘burbs with my mum. Meanwhile, I go outside and my record boxes are smashed open in the garage. There are expensive, original records sprawled out everywhere… I mean, my dad doesn’t really realise what he’s doing, but then he starts chucking synths and all this expensive gear into a moving van and I’m trying not to flip,” he deadpans. “It was some bizarre shit, man.”
James has released a swag of EPs on labels like Join The Dots, Sleazy Beats and House Of Sound, which have received critical acclaim and generated significant commercial appeal – most have charted in the top five of the UK’s vinyl dance specialists, Juno Records. Yet it is Melbourne electronic music and party collective Animals Dancing that has provided the most inspiration for James in recent times. “For a while in Melbourne, the only option to go out to was a fairly average, stock standard club show,” he says. “I remember Revolver [venue and club in Prahran] being the only possible option one night, and I just thought, ‘Something’s gotta change’. Thankfully the Animals Dancing guys came along. I guess the group kind of grew from these nights they used to put on at Mercat Basement, under the Queen Vic Markets. They’d been managing there for quite a while and just thought, ‘Let’s start our own damn party!’ The sound of it – I mean, they’d play long C-grade and disco, and then a bit of a power set. It was exactly what Melbourne needed at the time.
“The funny thing is that since they started having their parties, other people have been copying them and doing pop-up parties in really weird places,” he continues. “Recently in Melbourne, these two teenagers held this pop-up rave on a rooftop 15 stories up, with 300 people. Apparently everyone had to climb along this really dangerous route, and then when they got to the roof there was this hectic old-school acid house rave from the early ‘90s going on. Now, of course that kind of shit is stupid and dangerous, but it’s worth looking at the influence [of Animals Dancing]. I know that they have certainly helped to support me and a lot of other people, so they hold a sentimental spot in the scene. They’ve helped to set the bar differently for what parties can be – people often don’t leave ‘till eight in the morning, and they’re definitely still such a hub for people.”
James was also fortunate enough to have been remixed by Soul Clap, an experience he describes as being “Just mental! It was all arranged through [UK label] Under The Shade, and it felt very surreal to be part of that.” For now though, he’s focused singularly on rocking The Spice Cellar this Friday. “I’m lucky in that I’m getting to play after-hours on Sunday morning, when everyone’s gross and grimy and they’re up for you being a bit gnarly. You don’t have to impress anyone – you can just rip it up.”
With: Ben Korbel, Andy Webb, James Taylor
Where: The Spice Cellar
When: Friday August 17, from 10pm until late