The billboards, which have appeared in London and New York, simply state Powell‘s email – firstname.lastname@example.org – the idea being that interested parties (those who presumably make the connection between his name and that of the well known label) should just contact him if they want to know more.
One fan who did found out about Powell’s forthcoming debut album before the music press – Pitchfork were tipped off by the fan and then broke the news more widely.
And if you do email the address, you receive an auto-reply message and can then enjoy a conversation with the man himself. Members of the music press also receive a jpg of a tips sheet ‘for maximising your interview with Powell’. It contains advice for warm-up questions and interview etiquette with “one of the busiest men in contemporary post-EDM-slash-Drill-and-Bass”.
When I wrote to him earlier, initially he didn’t even mention his forthcoming album, but instead responded to a few brief points about his use of the media – and what’s happened as a result of the new campaign. Powell says he’s had around 600 different email conversations with people so far.
Top of post: Powell’s latest billboard, featuring just his email address, in London. Above: Powell’s billboard from last year, featuring the text of an email to him from producer Steve Albini
Last year, Powell unveiled a billboard featuring the text of an email he’d received from producer Steve Albini in response to a request to use a sample of his vocals from a live performance of his band, Big Black. The email gave Powell permission to use the clip but Albini also issued a fairly forthright view of contemporary dance music and club culture – he is not a fan.
In this latest campaign, while a pair of billboards will only get so much passing traffic – and within that a handful of people will get who he is – the real leg work is done online, with images of the posters doing the rounds on social media.
But the clever bit is that only by coming off social media – and going old school with email – can you have a proper conversation with him and even the low-down on his latest work. For fans of an artist’s music, that’s still a pretty unique thing.
And the album? Well, that’s officially announced next week, according to Powell. It’s called Sport, he says, and will be out in October.
Three of Powell’s previous tracks are at the XL site, xlrecordings.com. Powell is on Twitter at @odbpowell
Powell’s latest billboard in New York