Poisonous Relationship

Interview by
Zac Bayly
Photography by
Danny Calvi


Jamie Crewe, who records music as Poisonous Relationship, first appeared on the BUTT radar when he lent us this excellent track 'Small Dark Objects Forever' for our cassette-only BUTT BIAS Mixtape back in 2010. Three years later, I caught up with the 26-year-old Sheffield native again at his friend's council flat near Elephant & Castle in London. Over a couple of beers, he told me about trying poppers for the first time, his obsession with bongo drums, and his post break-up record 'Garden of Problems', which as far as we're concerned, is the record of the summer. Jamie was kind enough to let us stream it in its entirety.

‘Garden of Problems’ by Poisonous Relationship

1. Men’s Feelings – 10:00
2. Nobody – 5:32
3. Nite Birds – 4:48
4. Love Bug – 1:04
5. Yellow Poppy – 7:12
6. Endless Pleasure – 12:16

Zac: Your new record seems like a post-breakup record. Did you have a rocky separation?
Jamie: It totally is! Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of that breakup. I got cheated on and it was just a mess. I tend to dwell on things… But, you know, you lose something as much as you gain something.

What sign are you?
Aquarius. What’s your star sign?

I know nothing about Capricorns. I have this weird relationship with astrology, where I don’t really take it seriously, but I’m into anything that allows me to think about myself. I’m like, ‘Yes! Tell me all about myself!’ Me, my mum and my sister are all Aquarians. My mum’s always like, ‘Oh, we are so Aquarius’.

As an Aquarian, you’re meant to be airy-fairy.
I know and I am. But Aquarians are also committed — we don’t give up on things. We’ll still be processing things a year and a half later.

Do you like poppers?
I’ve done them three times, maybe. The first time I did them was when I was in California with Alexis Penny. We were in San Francisco and we were in this back room of a really sexy bar… I don’t do any drugs. I’ve never wanted to and I still don’t. I’ve smoked a cigarette, that’s about it.

Nicotine is a drug…
So there was this guy down the way, and he was naked with just a cock ring on. You could tell the tone of the conversation by how hard he was getting. He was talking to these two guys, and his cock was like a barometer, going up and down. And so the poppers came out… I was like, ‘Oh, I get why it’s fun to take drugs with people’. Amyl nitrate was used as a treatment for hysterical women in the Victorian times.

Oh really?
They also did sound therapy with gongs.

That sounds calming.
They would put tuning forks beside their ears to provoke hysterical reactions. It was wild.

You’ve described your songwriting as ‘hysterical’… What’s that all about?
Hysteria is about the relationship to the master and power — you’re simultaneously kind of enthralled with the master, but you’re undercutting him as well. With music, I always think of genre as the master. I thought, ‘What can I do that’s house, but also subverts house?’ I’m into house, but I was looking for a way to subvert it in an emotional, crazy kind of way.

Do house vocals ever become annoying for you?
There’s literally no point at which house vocals become annoying for me! I have a very high tolerance… The house music that I listen to could be kind of cheesy and campy, like Hi-NRG gay vocal house, but I just love it. I can get into any vocal performance as long as it’s committed. I also don’t mind out of tune vocals…

What’s with your bongo drum obsession, by the way?
I do have a bit of a bongo obsession, don’t I? On the record, it’s about having this constant throb. The original idea for the record was like, ‘What if I made a house record with no bass frequencies?’ Then bongos and hand-drums were really key in keeping it burbling along, leading you from one song to the next. In the end, I put bass frequencies in because it felt better. But there’s not a proper bassline until like the fifth song or something.

‘Garden of Problems’ is out on Ecstasy Records on 21 May 2013. Order your copy here. Jamie’s excellent website, with mixes and other fun stuff, is here.

Published on 15 May 2013