Heroes: Interview with David McFarline (Noncollective, London)

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Hi David! So… Are you working this weekend?

Luckily not. I just had some boring errands to run. How is your blog? I enjoyed the interviews with Basso and Dan.

It’s fine, thank you. We have big plans. Adding some handmade artwork to make it special.

Yeah, nice touch. Who is the illustrator?

I am. I hope the portrait of you will be the best in the series. What do Londoners usually do on weekends like this?

It’s quite nice this time of year here. Not too cold, nice for walks. Myself and my girlfriend recently moved to a new area so have been spending a lot of time walking around the various parks and woods in South-East London. There are also some great places to get food around us too – we’re fattening up for winter.

Are you born in London?

No, I was born and grew up in Northern Ireland. I moved to London nearly 10 years ago after graduating from college in Dublin.

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Small political question, how do you feel about the UK (is it something like USSR with republics)? You moved to England — is it foreign country for you as an Irish person?

It doesn’t feel foreign to me. The two places are so close in lots of ways. I grew up watching the same TV and listening to the same music as my English friends. London is definitely my home now, I can’t see myself anywhere else unless I retire to a small Greek island.

Why Greece? Have you read Henry Miller’s The Colossus of Maroussi? I think of Greece like an amazing place because of this book.

I’ve never read this book. It’s about Miller traveling to Greece during the Second World War, right?

Yeah! Going to Greece was a moment of enlightenment for Miller. So why Greece and not the English countryside?

To me Greece seems like the kind of place you could visit every year for the rest of your life and find something new, a new island to visit that’s totally different from the last. Also, the food and beaches are amazing. I stayed with Chris Kontos on Antiparos last year, we had a great time. I need to spend more time in the English countryside. The other place I tend to visit a lot is Co. Donegal on the west coast of Ireland, my parents have a 200 year old cottage there. This place is great if you’re in the mood for turf fires and sipping whisky. In London there are people everywhere, with this place you might go for days without seeing a soul.

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So London is perfect for a work and Greece is for the retirement? Describe London in some words and why do you like it?

Samuel Johnson said it better than I ever could… “Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Still true almost 250 years later… We just need a few more good second hand record shops.

What is your favourite one at the moment? Wanted to ask you, “Phonica or Piccadilly?” but figured that last one is in Manchester, not London.

These places are great for the new stuff. Things are a little thin on the second hand side of things for the records I’m after anyway. I used to visit a place called Rat Records in Camberwell every Saturday morning, some nice finds there. We need a place like Red Light Records here.

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There are so many record sellers from the UK on Discogs with amazing stuff… you (Englishmen) have the possibility to open something like RLR. Actually RLR is a tiny (but great of course) record store, isn’t it? Great — in the sense of the quality of records in it.

Someone should do it! I’d definitely send my hard earned pounds their way. There’s a great scene here, I’m sure it would be a hit. Like RLR it doesn’t have to be huge, it’s the selection in there that makes it great. When someone buys a great record another great one takes its place, no filler.

Agree! And of course another thing about RLR is the team. What is the last record you bought?

The last one I bought was ‘Town’ by Minako. That’s been on the wish list for a longtime. I remember Danny Wang playing this the first time I heard it. Still looking to play it at a party.

I’ve heard it also, great record! Do you see yourself as a DJ or more like a collector?

I don’t really see myself as a DJ or a collector, I just like playing music. Playing music at parties is fun, I never let technique stand in the way.

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What’s your favourite musical piece/artist that you always come back to?

This is one of those questions that has a different answer every time. For the last few years I’ve been obsessed with ‘Hats’ by The Blue Nile, think I might be wearing that record down. So good.

Tell us about Noncollective? Why did you choose such a minimal concept for the blog — mixes only?

I originally started it in 2007 with a friend from college. It was just a way of sharing music, we didn’t really have a plan. I then started to ask friends and people I’d admired to contribute. The minimal feel of the site came from my pretty minimal web building skills. I found it easier to delete code than add it in. It hasn’t really changed since then.

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And it became your singularity! We see you gather a big community of like-minded music lovers. And what about the label? Have you plans to put out something else on vinyl?

The best thing is the friends I made off the back of the site, I’ve also heard some great music along the way. With the label, I’d love to release another one soon. I’ve just had a few other things on my plate recently.

What are you working on at the moment? How is Commission going?

It’s going really well. Setting up a design studio has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, it feels good.

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Congrats! You did the artwork for Music From Memory. Do you listen to the music before doing design?

Yeah, that’s a great thing to be involved with. Jamie always sends over the tracks but I usually have a good idea of what the music is like anyway. It’s mostly about complimenting the music in the right way which can be tricky but definitely worthwhile. It’s the reason I got into graphic design in the first place.

I got the Lowman LP and just can’t wait for the Gigi comp. I should say that the package of Lowman felt premium! Did you also help Chris Kontos with the design of Kennedy (there are some similar moments)?

Thanks! Chris worked with his Co-Editor Angelo Pandelidis on the design of Kennedy. Unfortunately just after the release of the first issue Angelo passed away. Myself and Christopher Moorby (my partner at Commission) have offered to help out on the design of the second issue. We’ll look to carry on the great job Angelo did. That should hopefully be happening next year. We’ve heard some of the great things Chris has planned and it all sounds very exciting.

What inspires you as a designer? What’s your favourite object at home/office in terms of beauty/design, something you like to hold /look at?

This is a tough one for sure. I bought a Geoff McFetridge painting last year. I’ve always loved his work. When I saw his painting of two hands in beautiful shades of deep blue called ‘Making Something’ in a gallery in Soho I had to make it mine. I’m sure it will be on my wall for a very long time to come.

Huge thanks, David! It was a pleasure!

Nice to talk to you.

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Check Noncollective website and label

Words: Sasha Tessio, Artem Super Ikra
Cover picture: Sasha Tessio

Photos: from David’s Instagram