Gorillaz Wiki

Hello, and welcome to the Gorillaz Wiki! A community-maintained environment where you can find or share information about everything regarding the virtual band Gorillaz. Before editing, take note of the following:

We are happy to welcome you to our community and we hope you enjoy your stay!

READ MORE

Gorillaz Wiki
Advertisement
Gorillaz Wiki

I want to be a better person in every aspect. I really don't feel I've in anyway fulfilled my potential in every area of my life. But I'm optimistic.

Damon Albarn is an an English-Icelandic singer and songwriter who gained fame as frontman of rock band Blur, though as of late, Albarn has been more active as a member of Gorillaz, Africa Express, Electric Wave Bureau[1] and as a solo artist. He has released two solo albums named Everyday Robots and The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows.

Past projects of him include Albarn & Benediktssen, Malian Musicians, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Monkey, DRC Music and Rocket Juice & The Moon.

Albarn also works as a producer outside of his own projects, working with artists such as Roots Manuva, Kano and Bobby Womack.

Early Years

Born in Whitechapel, London England, Albarn's early life was spent living in Leytonstone with his parents Hazel and Keith and his sister Jessica. His family then lived in Turkey for a few months. When he turned ten, his family moved to Colchester, Essex, England due to the needs of his father's teaching career. Albarn then attended Stanway Comprehensive School. He met future Blur guitarist Graham Coxon at school and found they both liked similar bands, such as the Jam, the Kinks, and the Human League.

After finishing secondary school, Albarn moved to London to attend the East 15 Acting School, losing contact with Coxon. He concluded after one year's stay that he was a terrible actor and instead took up writing and performing music. Some of the songs he wrote in his early recording days later became Blur songs, such as "Birthday" on their debut album, Leisure. At the age of fifteen, he won an award for "Young Composer of the Year".

Musical career

Blur

In 1987, Albarn would stumble into a studio called The Beat Factory in order to record demos, forming a short partnership with owner Marijke Bergkamp, forming and joining various groups. In 1988, Albarn enrolled at Goldsmiths College in New Cross, London, England; he took a part-time course which he claims he did "just to get on campus" - coincidentally the same college childhood friend Graham Coxon was studying at.

Damon would join a band called Circus in 1988, comprised of a friend of his he knew from East 15, Eddie Deedigan, and his friend Dave Brolan. The band could continue to expand and grow until Dave Rowntree ends up joining, alongside Graham Coxon later on. A series of arguments leads all of the other members besides Damon, Dave, and Graham leaving, resulting in Alex James joining on bass. They'd rename themselves to Seymour, before playing a handful of concerts and recording tapes - but then they signed to Food Records in 1990, under the condition that their name be changed to "Blur".

As of now, Blur has released eight full-length albums, five of which went to #1 in the United Kingdom and all of which reached the top 15. Albarn has written the lyrics to nearly every song released by the band since their formation. They released Leisure, Modern Life is Rubbish, Parklife, The Great Escape, Blur, and 13 in the 90s, as well as Think Tank in 2003.

The band then went on hiatus, with Albarn publicly stating he was waiting for the return of Graham Coxon, who originally left the band prior to the release of Think Tank, to produce more Blur material; however, Coxon has refused to return, and Albarn stated in September 2005 that he will play guitar on the next Blur record. Albarn Quoted, "If Coxon won't return then I'll be playing guitar but it'll just be fast punk songs. Why don't I get another guitarist? Because there's none better than Coxon."

In 2009, Blur reunited with Coxon returning as their official guitarist after nearly a decade. They released the singles "Fools Day", "Under The Westway" and "The Puritan" from 2009-2012 and eventually released The Magic Whip in 2015. In 2023, various dates for festivals were announced in which Blur would be playing at, and in May 2023, Blur's ninth studio album The Ballad of Darren would be announced.

Gorillaz

Phase One

Damon Albarn formed the virtual cartoon rock band Gorillaz with Tank Girl creator Jamie Hewlett in 1998. With an initially ambiguous line-up, the group has released eight full-length studio albums to date.

Their self titled debut album was produced by Albarn with Jason Cox, Tom Girling and Dan the Automator and released in 2001, featuring contributions from Dan's fellow Deltron 3030 mates Del the Funky Homosapien and Kid Koala, as well as former Talking Heads members and Tom Tom Club founders Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz among others.

Shortly after the release, the band went on tour across Europe, Japan and North America, promoting the album and concept of a 'virtual band', with Damon Albarn and the other musicians playing hidden behind screens presenting the animated characters.

Phase Two

The second studio album Demon Days was released in 2005. Albarn and Cox produced the album together with James Dring and Danger Mouse. It featured contributions from De La Soul and Simon Tong as well as MF DOOM among others.

Phase Three

The third studio album, Plastic Beach was released in 2010. This time made without additional producers, it sparked from a cancelled project of Albarn and Hewlett called Carousel. It featured contributions from Snoop Dogg and former The Clash members Paul Simonon and Mick Jones among others.

While praised by critics and commercially successful, the album failed to meet the expectation of surpassing its predecessor during a critical time; on the now digitized music market the album only managed to achieve a fraction of its two predecessors sales.

Tensions between Albarn and Hewlett arised after cancelled productions and a costly tour, which now featured the artists costumed as seafarers in front of the screens.

While still releasing their fourth studio album The Fall, which was recorded during the Escape to Plastic Beach tour, in 2010, and the standalone single "DoYaThing", a promotional collaboration with André 3000 of Outkast and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem for Converse, in 2012, the band apparently broke up in the meantime.

Phase Four

However, shortly afterwards, in 2014, Jamie met Damon Albarn again on an event corresponding to his Everyday Robots Tour. The duo decided to give it another try, and subsequently conceptualized their fifth studio album around a morbid phantasy of people celebrating the end of the world after Donald Trump became President of the United States.

Humanz was recorded in 2016 and released in 2017, after Trump actually became President. Albarn produced it together with The Twilite Tone and his close friend Remi Kabaka Jr., the voice actor of Russel, who since then has joined Gorillaz in official capacity as a co-creator. It features contributions from Kali Uchis, as well as Noel Gallagher of Oasis, among others.

Phase Five

Humanz was immediately followed up by The Now Now in 2018. Produced by Damon and Remi with James Ford, the much shorter album featured contributions from George Benson and Snoop Dogg among others.

Phase Six

On January 2020, Gorillaz launched the critically acclaimed audiovisual project Song Machine, a web series consisting of singles and music videos released as episodes each month throughout the year.

In November 2020, the episodes were compiled into the seventh studio album called Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez.

Though Albarn cited a second season would follow soon after, Song Machine was put on hold and instead the 3-track EP Meanwhile was released as a tribute to the England's Notting Hill Carnival, an annual Caribbean-themed festival that was cancelled that year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Phase Seven

During the Gorillaz World Tour 2022, Damon Albarn announced Gorillaz' eight studio album, Cracker Island, to be released in February 2023.

Produced by Greg Kurstin, Cracker Island features contributions from Tame Impala, Bootie Brown and Bad Bunny, among others, and was released on February 24th 2023.

Solo Career

Albarn released Mali Music in 2002. As the name suggests, the album's recording sessions were done in Mali and in collaboration with Malian Musicians, a trip he made to support Oxfam in 2000. He has also visited Nigeria to record music with African drummer Tony Allen. Albarn says he would like to produce a Blur album in Baghdad as he "likes the Iraqi style of music".

He also released Democrazy in 2003, a collection of demos he recorded while staying in hotel rooms on the U.S. portion of Blur's tour for Think Tank.

Albarn has also appeared on other unrelated works. His song "Closet Romantic" appeared on the soundtrack for Trainspotting alongside an early Blur recording, "Sing". Fatboy Slim's 2004 release Palookaville featured Albarn's vocals on the song "Put It Back Together". Albarn provided the voiceover intro and backing vocals in the song "Time Keeps On Slipping" for the rap concept album "Deltron 3030". The album was produced by Dan the Automator, who also produced the Gorillaz debut album.

Albarn also composed the score with collaboration by Michael Nyman for the 1999 movie "Ravenous" with Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle. It is described as "an eerie mix of symphonic orchestrations and clunky ragtime" which went arguably well with the movie's cannibalistic themes.

In 2012, he released the soundtrack to his opera Dr. Dee, and in 2014 he released his first official full length solo studio album Everyday Robots, which was followed up by The Nearer The Fountain, More Purer Stream Flows.

Personal Life

Albarn had a long-standing relationship with Elastica frontwoman Justine Frischmann. His involvement with her profoundly influenced his songwriting in Blur in the late 1990s. "Beetlebum," the opening track and chart-topping hit single from Blur, is said to be about Frischmann's heroin addiction. 13, Blur's sixth album, presents strong overtones brought about by their break-up. He now lives in Notting Hill, London with artist Suzi Winstanley and their daughter Missy who was born in 1999.

Albarn is openly anti-war and has spoken out against wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2002 he took out full-page advertisements in the NME challenging the need for war, along with Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack, which they paid for personally.

In 2005, Albarn, among others, criticized the London Live 8 concert for not featuring enough black artists; this resulted in the addition of Ms. Dynamite, Snoop Dogg, and Youssou N'Dour to the programme. Albarn said he didn't want to perform in the concert because he thought it was too "exclusive" and may have been motivated by self-gain.

In the nineties, he spent a good deal of time in Reykjavík and for a time he became something of a permanent fixture in the "Kaffibarinn", a bar/café of which he was part owner. All its regular patrons were full of stories of his drinking abilities, considered somewhat impressive even by the local Icelanders. His current relationship with the bar is unknown.

In 2021, he became an Icelandic citizen being one of 30 to get a passport.

Quotes

  • I’m always really awestruck by talent and Damon, when he enters the room, is the entertainer. He had a good audience with me. In a couple of songs he was really going for it, running up the walls like Fred Astaire with a low-tech mike. With Graham I found it harder to feel confident – I don’t think he’s aware of how good he is. - William Orbit on recording “13” with Blur.
  • I used to go to this school a very long time ago, almost 43 years, and it has not changed that much at all. Some of my happiest memories come from living in Leytonstone and attending the George Tomlinson school. This is the essence of Africa Express. Getting lots of different people in a room to make music together. Your concentration is amazing. You’re all musicians. And that was the best singing ever. - Damon Albarn at George Tomlinson Primary School in Leytonstone.
  • Someone described “Merrie Land” as a bad acid trip. Having had a few of those in my lifetime, I can accept that. - Damon Albarn, Q magazine.
  • That epiphany happened really early to be honest. It was when I worked with Damon. He taught much of what I know and allowed me to grow in areas where I didn’t know much. He sort of showed me the way. He took me under his wing. He could see I had a lot of love and passion to do things, and he taught me other ways of getting there in the studio. Sometimes in your life you get to a point where you need extra confidence from someone you respect to help you and know that you’re not nuts for being ambitious. I got that at a really good time and Damon was the one who gave me that nod of confidence. - Danger Mouse on Damon for Esquire.
  • He’s not relying on the Mali musicians to resuscitate a dead, stale, MOR composer. There’s a certain childish glee with what he does, but also a total respect for musicians who are obviously, in the virtuosity department, light years ahead of anything he’d ever do as a performer. He recognizes that and doesn’t exploit it. - Michael Nyman on Damon’s musical work in Mali.

Trivia

  • Albarn has on numerous occasions used the alias "Dan Abnormal" (an anagram of his name), most famously in the title of a hit song on Blur's 1995 album The Great Escape.
  • He is left-handed.
  • He is a fan of Chelsea FC.
  • He isn't the speaking voice of 2-D, instead, Kevin Bishop provides the speaking voice, with Nelson de Freitas being the previous voice actor.
  • His Zodiac Sign is Aries.
  • Atsushi Ōkubo (A Japanese manga author) named the main character (Maka Albarn from Soul Eater) after him.
  • Damon and Jamie Hewlett did an animated music video for BBC because of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games featuring the Journey to the West characters.

Discography

Solo albums

Collaboration albums

  • Mali Music (2002) (with Afel Bocoum, Toumani Diabaté & Friends)
  • The Good, the Bad & the Queen (2007) (with Tony Allen, Paul Simonon and Simon Tong)
  • Kinshasa One Two (2011) (as part of DRC Music)
  • Rocket Juice & the Moon (2011) (with Flea and Tony Allen)
  • Bankbusted Nuclear Detergent Blues (2013) (with Graham Coxon, Michael Horovitz, and Paul Weller)
  • Merrie Land (2018) (with Tony Allen, Paul Simonon and Simon Tong)

Film and theatre soundtracks

  • Ravenous (1999) (with Michael Nyman)
  • 101 Reykjavík (2002) (with Einar Örn Benediktsson)
  • Journey to the West (2008)
  • Dr. Dee (2012)
  • Songs from wonder.land (2016)

 Blur discography

  • Leisure (1991)
  • Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993)
  • Parklife (1994)
  • The Great Escape (1995)
  • Blur (1997)
  • 13 (1999)
  • Think Tank (2003)
  • The Magic Whip (2015)

Gorillaz discography

(For a full list see Gorillaz Discography)

Sources and External Links

Videos

Gallery

References

Navigation

Advertisement