20 Questions: Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve

The skull-masked DJs have made a name for themseves with melodic, emotional dance remixes. Now, after a decade of scant singles and comps, their insanely diverse debut finally arrives.
Beyond the Wizard's Sleeve
The Soft Bounce

It all started with a mix. Well, more accurately, it started as a remix.

For both Richard Norris and Erol Alkan, these two young Londoners started out, by themselves, as Djs, Alkan focusing more on dance and electronic music, Norris befriend Joe Strummer and playing on some of the Clash maestro’s latter-day creations. It wasn’t until 2006 that, after having rejiggered some tracks under his own name, Alkan began using the Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve moniker. Norris had joined in, and the group, gaining notoriety for productions of artists of both the underground (Midlake) and the mainstream (Franz Ferdinand, The Chemical Brothers) variety, started making the name for themselves. EPs and singles would trickle out here and there, but outside of 2008 compilation of their earlier recordings, nothing concrete.

What a joy it is, then, that The Soft Bounce is here, and goodness is it a mishmash of so many varied things. From the hippie-friendly go-go bounce of “Creation” to the ’80s synth homage “Diagram Girl” to the ambient instrumental “Tomorrow, Forever” to the string-driven mod number “Door to Tomorrow”, The Soft Bounce encompasses so much but still originates from the group’s clearly-defined psych-friendly aesthetic.

Thus, to help celebrate the occasion, the two Wizards themselves answered PopMatters 20 Questions, revealing a love of truffle oils, an affinity towards author John Higgs, and some remarkably practical advice for handling life’s problems.

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1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

Erol: Oh. I’m trying to remember but it’s not coming to me. I find film really effective: a good movie can really give me goosebumps or leave me quite moved. It could have been Room’actually.

Richard: Dave Barbarosa’s Mud Sharks. It’s by a great drummer (also my drum teacher). He used to be in Bow Wow Wow and Adam and the Ants, and is a superb musician and also a great writer.


2. The fictional character most like you?

Richard: No idea. Sorry! 

Erol: Erol Alkan. 


3. The greatest album, ever?

Erol: There’s no such thing. There’s no greatest book, greatest human, greatest movie. At a push, the closest record to perfection I know is What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye or The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds but possibly because they are widely recognized as such.

Richard: Love’s Forever Changes.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Richard: Star Wars.

Erol: I have never had an interest of either of them. I appreciate they are well made but both passed me by. 


5. Your ideal brain food?

Erol: The process of creativity, absorbing aspects of life and channeling it into something shared or tangible. The irony to this is that the more creative I have became, the less I listen to of other peoples music.

Richard: Mainly books. Big fan of John Higgs, who has written on The KLF, Timothy Leary, and the 20th Century. I’d recommend all his work.

6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?

Richard: My daughter Ella. Because she is a great person, great personality. She not really my accomplishment, she is her own, but I had something to do with it.

Erol: By not being frustrated, jealous or too confused by remaining creative. It’s very easy to give up, and to keep going and sticking to your own ethos is very difficult.


7. You want to be remembered for …?

Erol: Sharing joy.

Richard: I’d like to be remembered for music that moves people, that takes them some place else, that means something to them, reminds them of a good time or place, some memory, some positive moment. 


8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?

Richard: Brian Eno, King Tubby, David Bowie, Bob Moog. And thousands more. I’m inspired by people every day.

Erol: My mother and father. They had an incredibly hard working ethos and that is something that has rubbed off on me in a big way.


9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

Erol: I only want my signature on what I have created.

Richard: Probably a very minimal painting. Maybe a Rothko. I’m a maximalist too often.