Amateur Best – aka Joe Flory – emerged from the ashes of genius synth-pop project Primary 1, so you know it’s gotta be good. We talk to Joe and preview some images from his new outfit (and its accompanying comic book).
Break it down for us – who is Amateur Best and what does AB sound like?
Amateur Best is me, Joe Flory. Very simply it sounds like someone who really likes electronic music and textures, but also loves very simple and direct songs. I’m a big fan of things (films/artwork/music) that come from one person’s vision. They reveal a lot both consciously and unconsciously though decisions, particular tastes, and even mistakes. So whether your results are loved or hated, they really are SOMETHING.
You used to be in Primary 1, so what made you start up Amateur Best?
Primary 1 was quite a confused situation. Nobody (including me) had any idea what it was actually supposed to be, but everyone involved with it had their own idea of what it SHOULD be. This is an extremely stressful way to make music. So I left it all behind to start again from scratch, and this time entirely on my own and entirely for my own gratification. I have learnt that there is no other way for me to make music. I am incapable of being ‘professional’ and making something on demand. I am at my best as an amateur, and I chose the name to remind myself of that. However I am trying my damnedest to make a living out of it so there is some professionalism involved somewhere along the line.
We read somewhere the songs are inspired by a fictional person, James Best, whom you’ve created a comic book about. Can you tell us more about it?
James Best is a comic book character that I created because I wanted to try and get out of the rut of always writing quite introverted and personal songs. However, as it turns out this character is only really an amplified and unhinged version of myself. So in my life I would break up with a girlfriend, and then in the comic James Best’s ex-girlfriend would be found murdered in the Velodrome in Stratford. It was basically completely ridiculous.
Had you ever drawn comics before?
Again, this was something I’m a total amateur at. When you do something creative without the constraints of technique, a lot of mad shit comes out. In my case it was lots of bile left over from my frustrations as a musician and failed pop star, and my general feelings in life of being a complete loser. Most people will only care about the music which is kind of the point, but I like it when there’s more to dig into if you are interested.
Chilly Gonzales plays piano on Ready for the Good Life. How did that happen?
I knew Chilly from writing some music for my previous album, and I was in Paris playing drums at a gig for him. Afterwards we hung out and I played him the tune, on the spur of the moment said ‘Would you try some piano over it?’. He turned back to the piano, pressed record and did two takes. I used both of them.
What’s a day in the life of Amateur Best?
I watch a hell of a lot of films, work on numerous musical ideas at once until they eventually join up and become something, do a bit of work as a bike courier, and get drunk quite a bit too.
Amateur Best’s debut, No Thrills, is out on 4 February. www.amateurbest.co.uk
Words: Zing Tsjeng