FOLKING HELL, GET OUT THE WOOLIES, HERE COMES PEDRO…
"Everything's recycled," ponders James Rutledge. "It's all punk-funk and electro-clash now. My thing is just about putting harps and live instruments into an electronic context because I love thee sound. The next progression might be '80s power ballads because they're the only things that haven't been sampled yet!"
Bon Jovi cut-ups and people sporting chest rugs on the dancefloor? It might seem laughable now but a few years ago could you imagine folk music throwing off its Arran sweaters and sandals and being embraced by the electronic fraternity? Like his friends Four Tet and Manitoba, James has been knitting together the homespun sounds of folk with hip-hop beats and Warpish wibbles for sometime now. "It's just a way of giving my experiments a melody and making them accessible. I certainly don't want everybody checking out folk records and regressing in some way."
As befits a man so keen on recycling, Pedro's sound is very 'green'. But the sylvan elements of his music are not, as you might suspect, a product of his childhood in the wilds of Derbyshire but the result of a move to the Big Smoke of all places. There, the previously rock-leaning James encountered people who "sent my musical tastes on a tangent. I began checking out all these free jazz and Autechre records. That inspired me to start making stuff but I can't listen to them for too long. When I'm making music I never think, 'This is too weird - it needs a melody so the kids will buy it'. But if I just made an album of abstract noise it wouldn't be very honest, either."
As he began exploring his newly-purchased sampler as Pedro, his other guise as member of Twisted Nerve surf-punk outfit DOT was bringing him into close contact with the acoustic balladry of Badly Drawn Boy, amongst others. The result was two EPs for Melodic, which has continued to nurture James' sound by releasing his album and recently sending him to play live at Barcelona's Sonar festival.
"That was really good, but it's strange because no one really watches the acts. They just sit around letting it wash over them like electronic busking," he laughs.
Busking? It don't get more folk than that although, on his current form, Pedro won't be reduced to sitting on a street corner with his laptop for some time yet.