Today we’ve got Gorillaz talking about their new musical and design collaboration with Converse, James Murphy and André 3000. The Grammy-winning band have come out with four different Chuck Taylor designs, crafted by Gorillaz co-creater and designer in his own right Jamie Hewlett. And yes, if you thought a camo print would feature, it prominently does. The shoes mix band motifs with artwork from the band’s past to create a line that fits the eclectic nature of their music and looks undeniably like their style.
They’ve also dropped a new single from the Converse ‘3 Artists. 1 Song’ series (remember that awesome Julian Casablancas/Santigold video from 2008?), which is up as a free download today. Here Murdoc and 2D chat about putting the track together, wanting that ‘scuzzy feel’ for the trainers and why Converse felt like a good match.
How did the Converse and Gorillaz collaboration come about?
M: Back last year I met up with the good people over at Converse. We had been talking about a “Gorillaz/Converse” hook up for a while. Everyone loves Converse, and they wanted to see if we, Gorillaz, could help sell their soles. And Russel’s never really out of his, so it seemed ideal.
Can you tell us how the footwear collection was born?
M: The plan was to get a range of the shoes together using Gorillaz own special artwork. So, I put in a call to our art and video director Jamie Hewlett, to see if he’d like to put something together with us. Jamie did and they looked great. I think they need to be worn in a bit, to give them that skuzzy feel, but they look really good.
And next to the footwear collaboration, you also worked on a track with Converse, tell us about that.
M: Converse said it’d be good to have a track, y’know, some music. And I thought it’d be wonderful to put something together with Converse, music-wise. It’s what we do, Gorillaz. Music. We’re known for it. And I liked their whole “Three artists – One Song” idea. Gorillaz are all about the collaboration, aren’t we, so it seemed like a perfect fit.
How does the collaboration with Converse rank among the past music collaborations the band has done with the likes of Snoop Dog, De La Soul, Lou Reed, etc?
M: I think in a funny way it’s one of the very best things we’ve ever done. It seems to encompass every aspect of the Gorillaz oeuvre, almost like it’s got a little ingredient from each period of the Gorillaz back catalogue. It’s hip-hop, it’s funk, it’s rock, it rolls; it’s got it all. It does its, er, ‘thing’, y’know!
How long have you wanted to work with James Murphy?
2D: Sound Of Silver is a great album. A fantastic piece of work. I’ve always been a big fan of keyboards and technology and bloopy noises and Krautrock and everything else, so LCD Soundsystem really works for me.
What about Andre 3000 made you guys want to work with him on this track?
2D: He’s cooler than being cool, isn’t he? Gorillaz love Outkast, they’re one of the few outfits that all four of Gorillaz love. Aquemini, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, and Stankonia are great albums. Like Sly and The Family Stone or Parliament, Outkast always capture that really colourful, really liquid, playful funk and wrap it round with lyrics about love, politics, truth and fun.
M: Andre’s lyrics are really great too, incredible - very fluid. He’s an incredible rapper, so tight. And the lyrics just pour forth like a tidal wave out of him. And – as Andre sings in this cut – he really is the ship.
We’ve heard that there are some outtakes from the song that may see the light of day soon? Care to shed any light on that?
M: Hmm, not sure they’re outtakes, more… different versions. There’s a fair few to come out the oven: there’s an extended mix that’s knocking on for 12-13 minutes. That’s “DoYaThing” on full throttle. It’s ‘The Director’s Cut’, i.e. my one. It’s a real epic.
Was it tough cramming 10 years of your band’s history on to 4 shoes?
M: Not really. That’s what it’s always been really. 4 pairs of shoes. Me, Russel, Noodle and er… the other one. “2D”. Always forget his name. But, the whole history of this band has been just four pairs of shoes. Only this time, they’re available to buy through Converse.
Shop the shoe collection at converse.co.uk, and download “DoYaThing” here.