Youth has been there, seen it and done it. He can go from the giddy heights of producing albums by the biggest superstars on the planet – from Paul McCartney and Pink Floyd on down, with records he’s worked on having sold 20 million worldwide – to the deepest and weirdest underground dance scenes in dark basements and far flung corners of the planet. From the wild and combative sound barrage of Killing Joke via untold blissed-out ambient and acid house vistas and the mainstream song structures of Crowded House and The Verve (his work on Urban Hymns won him a BRIT Award for Best Producer, while the record itself won Best Album) to pure pop. From creating some of the UK’s first ever hip hop beats back in the early eighties to pioneering brand new 21st century methods for sonic immersion.
He’s been a member of The Orb, Brilliant, Blue Pearl and, of course, Killing Joke, played bass for Kate Bush, and remixed everyone from U2 to Siouxsie & The Banshees, De La Soul, A Guy Called Gerald, Malcolm McLaren and Marc Almond. The man born Martin Glover, and occasionally known as Orion or Pig Youth, has claim to be one of the most adaptable and diverse musical figures of the modern age. He continues to influence generations of producers and musicians, and perhaps most potently of all, he’s possessed of that rare alchemy that allows a producer to bring out the inner qualities of an unlikely song and transform it into a hit.
You’d expect someone at this stage of their career to be resting on their laurels: after all Glover was anointed as an elder statesman when he was awarded the PPL Outstanding Contribution to Music Award by the Music Producers Guild at the start of 2016. But somehow he seems to retain the work ethic that has seen him able to build these successes while juggling multiple roles, styles, record labels and approaches. As the new documentary DVD portrait of his life and activities, Sketch, Drugs & Rock’n’Roll, shows, Youth always has something on the go. Still in South London, just a short way from where he and Paterson first cooked up their weirdest ambient soundscapes, he’s working away on new approaches to immersive sounds – pure-tone generation, gong vibrations, surround sound ambient experiences – which are leading to successful live events in London, and soon to expand into Puretone Resonate, an ambient arts festival with The Orb and Jah Wobble headlining, at Space Mountain his famed studio complex in Granada on 16th-18th September 2016.
As well as all these musical activities, he writes and paints constantly – indeed, he makes clear that “I don’t really see a distinction between the different things: I make art while I listen to music, and I think up music or poetry when I’m looking at art, they all feed into each other” – with an art show opening in June, and his recent Anarchist Colouring Book a cult classic. In the studio he works with his oldest friends and the newest talents. He remains a jobbing producer, and is constantly on the lookout for young studio talent, dedicating himself to training up the next generation of studio engineers and inventors. He’s been there, seen it and done it, yes: but the most important thing about Youth is that he is still doing it, with the same appetite for music and all that surrounds it as he ever had.