Image via Paranoid London/Instagram

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The name “Paranoid London” sounds like a headline you would read in the Daily Mail after a riot. Or the name of a pirate radio channel. It’s suggestive of something seedy and restless, an unseen force below the surface, and it’s a fitting moniker for this enigmatic U.K. electronic duo, whose music draws on a variety of styles, including punk, hip hop, rave, and industrial. Although born on opposite sides of the country, Gerardo “Del” Delgado and Quinn Whalley both ended up in the London area in the 2000s, where they met and began producing tracks together. They’ve been putting together a vital and uncompromising discography ever since.

Their music is an explicit sonic homage to “acid house,” a relatively-obscure sub-genre of house music that blipped in and out of existence in the mid/late-1980s. Ironically, it’s not even native to London (or even the U.K.), but rather Chicago. Characterized by sequenced TB-303 basslines and analog drum machines, it peaked circa 1987 and had all but disappeared by the 1990s, when it was picked up by DJs in London and Manchester, who gave it a renewed popularity. Del and Quinn are some of its last well-known practitioners.

What differentiates their pastiche from traditional acid house music has been a slate of distinctive guest vocalists (Mutado Pintado, Josh Caffé), all of whom exhibit a similar style of deadpan speak-singing. A flat delivery that calls to mind No Wave, somewhere between ranting, spoken-word, and free-associative poetry.

In the beginning of their career, Paranoid London were reclusive. They refused to do interviews, released all their music exclusively on vinyl (no CDs, no downloads), and did zero promotion. Cultivating an air of mystery turned them into cult figures, and earned them a dedicated audience. Until, one day, they decided to step out from behind the curtain. The decision to speak on record coincided with the end of a lengthy between-albums hiatus, and they’ve since become a fixture of the club and festival scenes in the U.K.

In this interview, I tried to fill in some of the gaps of their story. We talked about their backgrounds in West Surrey and Manchester, their early influences, how they hooked up with Alan Vega, and their latest album, Arseholes, Liars and Electronic Pioneers, which was released on February 9. – Jackson Diianni

​​(This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.)

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