"Nice bit of porn!" Richard D. James says as he hoists a duffel bag off the floor, extracts a boxy black machine, and lays it on the table next to his empty juice glass. “That is a good piece of fucking equipment." I wish I could tell you more about the gear in question, but honestly, his mini-tutorial flies by in a blur, because, well: Aphex Twin is sitting in front of me, showing off his fucking drum machine.
James has never been known as a terribly forthcoming talker. For years, what few interviews he gave, he conducted only by email—and those could be almost painfully curt. In one from 2011, for example, a reporter from Spain’s biggest newspaper asked him about his relationship with his public. "I hate them." What does he look for when he composes? "Nothing." How does he know when a song is finished? "When I'm sick of making it."
Even when he was in the habit of giving face-to-face interviews, back in the 1990s, he could often barely contain his apparent disdain for those asking the questions, or the very concept of journalism itself. Hence the extensive Aphex Twin mythos that developed out of his wild and essentially unverifiable claims: that he lived in a bank vault, drove a tank, shared the name of his dead brother, was sitting on a trove of a thousand unreleased songs. Over time, he grew into electronic music's very own misanthropic version of Paul Bunyan.