“Well, I hope not,” replies Marcus Lambkin when asked if his moniker “Shit Robot” relates in any way to his personality. The “shit” refers to him just being a not very good robot. “He’s kind of crap.”
Many of Lambkin’s songs sound robotic in the sense that they evoke mental images of cube-headed robots depicted in ‘60’s movies engaging in a chorus of robot-language. However, after the success of 2010’s From the Cradle to the Rave, his first full-length album, it’s evident that they are far from “shit”.
The robotic-chorus vibe comes from Lambkin’s blending of genres like techno, acid house, electro and synth pop—a motley crew of sounds that have influenced Lambkin over the two-plus decades he’s been involved with dance music.
“I moved to NY in late ’92, and then started DJing about a year after that,” says Lambkin, originally from Dublin, Ireland. Shortly thereafter he met future LCD Soundsystem member James Murphy, who would go on to form DFA records, the label on which Shit Robot currently resides.
Although Murphy encouraged Lambkin to produce, the first Shit Robot EP Wrong Galaxy didn’t come out until 2006, almost 12 years after the two first met. Throughout the ‘90’s, and the first few years of the 00’s, Lambkin’s primary focus was DJing, something that Lambkin doesn’t necessarily view as advantageous.
“Being a good DJ does not make you a better producer,” he says. “Nowadays it’s more about production. If you don’t have something out, you won’t get DJ gigs. So, I think it’s a very different world from when I started DJing.”
After 12 years in the New York scene, Lambkin moved to a castle in rural Germany with his wife who is descended from German nobility. “I have a studio in the castle, but the studio is pretty modern looking,” he says. “It is in the attic of the castle though, so the surroundings are pretty medieval.”
It’s incredibly symbolic that Lambkin now produces from the inside of a Schloss.
Like these buildings, Lambkin has stood the test of time and the challenges of changing eras. His secret?
“Very simply, just sticking with it,” he says. “I think most people find out very quickly that it’s not as glamorous as it might seem and get disillusioned. Things come and go so fast, you really have to be around for a while to make any impact.”
Shit Robot’s latest EP Teenage Bass was just released this past spring. The title track was heavily influenced by sounds that inspired Lambkin when he was a teenager. “I’ve always wanted to do something with the one finger punk bassline. Kind of similar to early Killing Joke, with guitars and synths.” Altho the second track on the EP, “Space Race,” takes a turn and contains a definitive disco vibe.
After hearing the EP it seems that a more appropriate interpretation of Lambkin’s moniker is a robot that can compile all the “shit” it’s processed throughout its years of activity and then create something nostalgic yet completely modern at the same time.
Catch Shit Robot at The HIFI Club Friday, Oct. 26
By: Jonathan Crane
Photo: Sean Dack