The multi-instrumentalist and producer, Gagarin (real name Graham Dowdall) has worked with a raft of influential figures including Nico, John Cale, Pere Ubu. Now, after releasing his brilliant and highly acclaimed new album Biophila, he’s worked with the equally pioneering Bass Clef on the release of new single ‘Third Rail’.

The result is something cinematic, uplifting and exciting, a blend of 90s and dancefloor inspired sounds that sound new and different. What’s most pleasing about the track is that it feels so effortless – a truly joint effort and a fusion of sounds.

To celebrate the release of the track The 405 caught up with both artists to discuss how the collaboration came about, the agonies and ecstasies of collaborating, the legacy of their music and the value of a good set of cheekbones.

Gagarin - Tell us about the new single? Why did you choose this particular track to be released?

Well, people seem to have picked up on this track which kind of surprised me but it feels like a track with a life of its own - originally I was aiming for an early 90's ambient techno feel with a 4/4 but the track wouldn’t let me. It also felt capable of stretching and expanding and always sounds great live - it feels a bit like some strange electric beast.

How would you describe your sound to the uninitiated?

It’s about contrasts - urban and pastoral, melody and noise, rhythm and atmosphere, warm and cold, analogue and digital.

You’ve worked with some esteemed figures – how have they influenced how you sound/work?

Brilliant people always stimulate you and force you to find new things in yourself. The people I've worked with have always had scant respect for the way things should be done and I've learned a lot from everyone I've worked with - very different stuff from each - sometimes about production sometimes about performance sometimes about the value of a good set of cheekbones.

Do you prefer collaborating or working alone?

Both equally - both have their varying agonies. I love the freedom and responsibility of working alone but I love reacting to other people’s ideas and vice versa as we all hear the world so differently. You've also got someone to talk to with a collaboration which is nice but you also have to compromise which is frustrating though always for the greater good.

Is there anyone out there you would like to work with?

Lots but there’s no plan as its more interesting that way - who you might come across.

How do you decide upon the people you choose to collaborate with?

I will only work with people who are brilliant, original and unique. Just about everyone I have worked with, certainly on an extended basis falls into this category.

Is it freeing running your own label?

Yes very much but also a draw on time that I resent.

Do you prefer being in the studio or playing live?

Completely different - live is more pleasure but working in the studio is really where you engage with the deepest elements of the craft. I love playing out live and you hear your music in a completely different way as the audience bring some new perspective to it but I love chiselling away at the details in the studio.

How was Exotic Pylon?

Brilliant - Jonny Mugwump has created a really good thing - great audience, brilliant music and cool vibes. People seemed to enjoy the set and I felt I played ok.

You’ve said in interviews you don’t like looking back but you must be proud of the legacy of your work?

Yes of course - I don’t think I've ever done anything truly shit and considering the volume of stuff I've been involved in that’s good and quite a bit of it is very good. However I'm always most interested in what comes next. One day I'll be proud of what I've done and it’s great that others respect it.

Were you pleased/surprised in any way by the overwhelmingly positive reaction to Biophilia?

Pretty pleased as so many people actually got what I was trying to do and yes slightly surprised as I was a bit drained at the end of making it and wasn’t utterly confident that I'd hit my target. When the first review came in saying it was the most "icy and aloof thing I've heard in years " - I knew I was on to a winner.

Were you angry Bjork stole your album title?

Of course - what you can you say – it’s a Zeitgeist thing - I don’t believe for a minute she nicked the title - just probably thinking about the same stuff at similar time but it is frustrating when someone much better known treads on what you've done.

Bass Clef – how did you get involved in remixing this? How did this collaboration come about?

I think we met when we were on the same bill at a Robert Logan gig. Since then our paths have crossed a few times - via the Snorkel / Slowfoot / south London odd music axis.

The Bad Derail mix feels like a very natural - effortless in a way - fit of your two styles – did it feel like that when you worked on it?

Yeah, it came together nicely, that nod to an early nineties sound - which was obviously a huge influence on me as a teenager - is a shared reference point. I just gave the track a couple of glasses of rum and a somewhat inelegant shove in the direction of the dancefloor...

Which current musicians excite you?

BC: The raw weirdness of Anti-G, the textures and conceptual framework of Oneohtrix Point Never, the individuality and dignity of Shackleton. Oh, and the songs of a 12th century nun called Hildegard Von Bingen. Ok, that's not current, but it's currently inspiring me!

G: Gillian Welch, James Blake and loads more.

What inspires both to make music?

G: What else am I going to do?

BC: The rote answer is: I think it's a basic biological drive like breathing and sleeping. Ultimately I don't know. The hope and the possibility that the next track you make will be the best thing you ever did, and change the world into a better place.

What’s next for both of you?

G: Low Bias album just out, Roshi feat Pars Radio album and Pere Ubu album in process, soundtrack for a fab film.

BC: Bass Clef album number 4, a lot more work on my fledgling label MAGIC + DREAMS.

Will you work together again?

G: I do hope so - Ralph?

BC: Yeah I hope so. Next thing for me is get a Gagarin remix!

Header image by Ali Wade