Here’s the burning question: how young are you really?
Old enough to be wise but young enough to have fun. That’s probably the answer to that.
Nicely dodged. Fair enough, then. What’s your set going to be like out here?
The Young Punx DJ set represents our influences from the club scene, so there’s a lot of breakbeat, electro and house. Depending on the crowd, we can go into dubstep and drum ’n’ bass, but the set is mostly solid, good-time music with grooves and funk. Someone recently told us that our sets are stylistically all over the place and shouldn’t work, but somehow do. And that’s a compliment because that’s what we try to achieve, really.
It’s pretty representative of the stuff on your first album, then.
Yeah definitely. The first album [2007’s Your Music Is Killing Me] was a comment on popular culture and an extension of mash-up culture. It did well, but it was quite forward-thinking in lots of ways – we might have put too many ideas into it. I think the stuff we’re working on for the second album is more reflective of our experience as DJs, going out and seeing what makes people dance. It’s not just house and electro; hip hop’s in there as well. We’re doing collaborations with MC Paul Barman who’s a New York rapper, as well as Count Bass D. It’s not like we’re trying to be rap or ‘street’ though – that’s just the kind of vocal that’s prevalent in the music we play.
Hard to imagine you lasting long on the streets in bowler hats…
Well, when [bespectacled fellow Young Punk] Hal went to Detroit to record with Count Bass D, he was out on the street in a proper rough neighbourhood and he came back with some new friends. I think it’s just about having the right performance for the right environment. If you’re in Japan you can put on all the kit and do a bit of a show, but if you’re in little underground club in [dodgy London borough] Hackney, you stick a baseball cap on.
You obviously take this quite seriously, which seems to stand at odds with the very irreverent tone of the earlier Young Punx stuff. Has being in the music biz changed you?
That’s fair, in a way. It did always start out as a tongue-in-cheek riff on popular culture, but there was always a serious edge to it. We never wanted to be seen as a novelty act. The mash-up scene we’re in was based on seeing how irreverent you could be, but the culture’s moved on a lot and there are people in it who are taking themselves hugely seriously. We’re not like that, but a lot of creative thought goes into the work, so it would be a shame for that to be overlooked. So now it’s less about taking the p*** and more about having fun.
Tell us about Han Hoogerbrugge, the guy who designs your videos and covers.
Han is fantastic – he’s instrumental in creating the band’s identity. He’s an immensely talented Dutch animator that we found on the ’net. He’s gone on to animate the new video for the Pet Shop Boys, and if you look at the video, it could be one of ours. So hopefully we’ve been circulating long enough to inspire two of the greatest electronic artists of all time.
Do you not want to give them a kicking for stealing your style?
Nah, I don’t want to start on The Pet Shop Boys. Personally, they’re not someone I always listen to, but I know Hal would love to be rated alongside them. It’s just rewarding to find out that you’re a little bit ahead of the crowd.
Hal seems to be front-and-centre of most media activity. Do you get a bit jealous?
Nah. Our relationship began when I was an A&R man at [UK dance label] Positiva. I couldn’t sign him because his sound wasn’t right for them, but we started DJing together and I became part of the Punx in the studio. Some of the pictures on the site represent it best, where I’m whispering in his ear. He’s extremely articulate and knows how he wants us to be presented, so I’m happy for him to do that.
Is that quote going to come back to get you in a couple of years?
When I’m not getting my dues? [laughs] Not at all – we’re really good friends, and I’m happy to play that role because I know that I’ve always got his ear.
The Young Punx play The Apartment, May 14.