Damon Albarn Talks Gorillaz Collaborations, Writing 'Humanz' in a Post-Trump World

Jamie Christopher Hewlett
Gorillaz

Gorillaz' musical mastermind and all-around rock icon Damon Albarn recently gave a rare interview to Sterogum, and he opened up a lot about the concept and process of the cartoon bands latest album, Humanz.

Turns out the record is greatly inspired by the Trump election, although when it started, it was still a far-off, unlikely idea. The process began with a simple question posed to collaborators: “Imagine a night where everything that you believed was turned on it's head. How would you feel?”

In the end, Trump won the presidency of the United States, and Humanz surreality became all too real.

“[Humanz] is a journey through that night, post-whatever that was,” Albarn is quoted by Stereogum. “That news. When you go out that night, how do you feel? This record was anticipating that night but trying to make a party out of it.”

D.R.A.M., Vince Staples, Popcaan, and the rest of the album collaborators were asked to keep a few key points in mind.

“We wanted this record to convey pain, joy, and urgency,” Albarn is quoted. “Those were the three tenets. You couldn’t enter the dark fantasy unless you were going to carry those three superpowers with you.”

The full interview dives into the band's history, collaborations that never were, and the years between Plastic Beach and now when another Gorillaz record seemed impossible.

“What makes a Gorillaz song different than anything else I do is very simple: I just use synthesizers,” Albarn once defensively told a reporter during an interview for his solo record. “Are you asking me if I’ll make another album someday with synths and drum machines? Sure.”

It's a must-read for any hard-core Gorillaz fan, and in a strange way, a beautiful love letter to the United States. As with the album Humanz itself, Albarn claims the concept of Gorillaz as a band is intrinsically linked to our home country, for better or worse.

“I don’t think there would be Gorillaz if there wasn’t America,” Albarn is quoted. “I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world that has the sort of resources to keep something like Gorillaz afloat, other than America. It’s big. It really is. God bless America.”

Read the full feature at Stereogum.