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date: 18.05.2007
location: Escape club, Sofia
event: Hybrid in Sofia
text/questions: Irina Nikolova

It’s your second time here in Bulgaria. Do you remember the party at Cacao Beach last summer and did you enjoy it?

Mike: Yeah, it was very good. It was the last party of the season, the closing party. We really enjoyed it.
Chris: We had a gig the next day and we were a little late, so we had to drive to the airport to get our flight and had to do some Ayrton Senna drive, an insane, a scary drive. (laughs)

You like playing in Eastern Europe. Do you think that here is somehow different from the rest of the world? Is it a good place to play and to party?

Chris: Very much so, Eastern Europe is the place to party: Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary.
Mike: Poland, Lithuania, Belarus. A lot of our gigs at the moment seem to be in this part of the world. We were talking in the plane today that people here are more imaginative, they listen to a broad section of music and in the UK is a lot more narrow. We can experiment a lot more here, we can play a wider range of music. The crowd is very receptive and it’s more fun.

Do you think that people are more open minded here?

Mike: People are a lot more open minded here than in the UK at the moment.
Chris: This is because the UK has been pigeonholed. If you play Fabric, you must play breakbeat and if you play somewhere else, you have to play house. The crowd gets spoilt of going to so many parties at Turnmills or Fabric, years and years of very good line-ups every weekend, so they get very spoilt. It’s a lot more special for us to turn up at a place that is very receptive.

Your album “I Choose Noise” was released in September last year, maybe a week after your visit to Cacao Beach. I have to say that it is a fantastic piece of work. While I was listening to it, I just thought that it’s quite cinematic, you can almost see some images passing in front of your eyes. The instrumental tracks sound like they were made for a soundtrack.

Chris: It’s funny you say that. (both laugh)
Mike: We’ve been doing some film music recently, in the last few years with this guy Harry Gregson Williams. He helped us score the strings for the album, we specifically chose a film composer for the orchestral arrangements. We’re just huge film music junkies and film music is great to combine with the music we make, it gives a little bit more depth, there’s a little bit more background colour. We do write tracks with a mental picture in mind and when some people listen to it they kind of get mental images which is a great compliment.

You’ve been working with Perry Farrell from Jane’s Addiction. He did some vocals on “I Choose Noise”. So how did you meet him?

Chris: Harry Gregson Williams was doing some film scores at the time. We did “Man On Fire”, we did “Domino” and “Déjà Vu” with him. He’s got a studio in Venice Beach in LA. Perry Farrell and Peter Distefano, the latter worked on the album and plays live for us as well, were coming back and forth to the studio. We were using Harry’s studio, they were surfing and I like to surf as well. They came to the studio one day, we went surfing and exchanged music, he [Perry Farrell] ran away with it because he was really into it, then came back and said “I’d like to do some vocals for this track”, the track is “Dogstar” on our album. We’ve done three tracks for his album, and one of them is “Dogstar” as well [called “Wish Upon A Dog Star” on Farrell’s album], so we’ve shared the same track. Perry’s got a new band called “Satellite Party” and he’s done a rock version of the track. So, everything just came from meeting him in Harry’s studio and hanging around in LA.
Mike: He’s a really nice guy, he’s an incredible vocalist. So we’d like to have him back, maybe on the next album.

You also teamed up with Peter Hook from New Order [co-founder of the legendary Joy Division]. He’s playing bass for you, right?

Chris: Yeah, he played bass on the second album “Morning Sci-Fi”. He came down to the studio and played for three hours, so we used some of the bass parts on the second album. We’ve chopped all the little bits into samples and reconstructed some of them for the new album. So we didn’t really play as session musicians for the third album but took stuff from the second album and regurgitated it.

Your music has always been that perfect combination of lush string arrangements and orchestrations on one hand and break beats on the other hand. This is a combination that is quite sonically appealing to people. Why do you think it works that well?

Chris: It’s a hybrid. (both laugh out loud)
Mike: We just really make music that we like the sound of. The second album [“Morning Sci-Fi”] was a bit of a weird album, we were trying to make music that people would like and we didn’t end up pleasing ourselves. That’s why maybe it wasn’t received so well. A difficult second album, it’s such a cliché (laughs). But with this album it’s different because we really enjoyed making the music, there are tracks that we really enjoy listening to. So I suppose this is the best we can do.
Chris: It’s very difficult to make music starting with an idea because you start a track in a certain way and then it can go in many different ways. So with the last album, it was very close to what we had previously set in our heads. “Symphony” [“Finished Symphony” out in 1999] is now 10 years old and we’ve always tried to do another “Symphony”. We’ve now come closer to the “symphony-esque”.
Mike: Just in the way that we actually do it now, it’s the same idea behind it, having those lushy sounding combinations of strings and breaks and really tense sounding tracks. Some people complain because they want to hear tracks like some of the tracks on “Wide Angle” but we’ll never write in that style again, like with the French rap track that we did [“Sinequanon” on “Wide Angle”]. It sounds good but we’ll never do that kind of track again. (laughs). We have moved on musically.
Chris: As a third album it is quite comfortable to sit behind.
Mike: And we’re doing some tracks for the fourth one as we speak. We are going to play some bits tonight.

What kind of tracks do you like playing when you DJ?

Chris: Dirty, filthy, breakbeat house music. (laughs)
Mike: Yeah, it’s a little bit of everything, some breaks, some tech house.
Chris: Our sets are more of a journey really, we go around electro house, progressive house and breaks.

Do you think that there has been some sort of a step away from the breakbeat genre in the last few years?

Chris: Yeah, breakbeat hasn’t been that good lately. Breakbeat was really good about three years ago, it was really innovative and forward thinking. But recently the breaks producers like Dylan Rhymes, Elite Force and Meat Katie are still doing some amazing stuff but they kind of switched to house or electrohouse now. It’s progressing and I think that electrohouse has been born of that. I’ve got this new track of Rogue Element that Dylan Rhymes mixed and it just sounds utterly filthy, that’s the only way I can describe it and that’s the only record I’ve heard recently that kind of reminds me of what breakbeat was three years ago. But it’s not breaks. It’s a very forward thinking electro, housey, breaky kind of track.
Mike: A lot of people are pushing the scene forward. About three years ago breakbeat was the kind of sound they were into. Now the best producers are doing something else. But I’m sure it will come around when people get bored eventually.
Chris: Yeah, music gets in circles, isn’t it?

Apart from being DJs you also formed a live band and you’re performing live what you do in the studio. Who takes part in those live sessions and gigs, and what kind of instruments do you play when you’re on stage?

Mike: We’ve got keyboards and laptops, iMacs and effects, those kind of toys to play with. Now the live show is getting bigger because we’re getting ready for the festivals. We’re doing Glastonbury on June 23 and other 5-6 festivals in Europe. There’s me and Chris playing keyboards and effects, our drummer Alex, Tim Hutton, our bassist from Shugardaddy. On some gigs we’ve got Peter Distefano from Porno From Pyros from LA, then we’ve got Charlotte James, a new vocalist, John Graham from Quiver. So it’s a big band. At one point we even have like three guitars on stage or two bassists (laughs) .We’re trying to keep it still electronic although there are lots of live instruments going on. We’re trying to combine the two.

Do you think that this is a better way to present what you do in the studio?

Chris: For any band the live show is a way forward. We have a lighting director, we have a stage director, visual guy, monitor engineer, it’s like forty people, so we hope we’re going to keep it that way.
Mike: Also records sales have become very digital. I haven’t bought a CD in a shop for years. I buy music online or download it. So now it’s really important for people to be able to see bands live, to get this experience watching them for an evening. You can’t just turn up with a couple of laptops, nodding a head for hours, doing a live show. It just doesn’t work.
Chris: Checking your email (laughs).
Mike: It’s just boring and there’s no point. We’ve seen a couple of amazing artists that way and it’s been really disappointing.

And you’ve got an impressive back catalogue of remixes for bands such as REM, Radiohead, UNKLE, FSOL…

Chris: You picked up only the good ones, thank you (laughs).

Are you working on some new ones?

Chris: At the moment we’re doing a remix for UNKLE for Burn My Shadow, another one for Phil Hartnoll’s [Orbital] project Long Range.
Mike: We did a remix for Elite Force, for his track “You” that is out on his new label called Used &Abused recordings And we did a remix of Perry Farrell’s “Wish Upon A Dogstar”
Chris: Which is actually our record. So it’s very strange. Our record that he redone himself and then we remixed it. I get a bit confused by that…. (both laugh).

As a band you’ve got many different influences. What kind of music do you like to listen to at the moment?

Chris: At the moment I really like the new Kings Of Leon album and the last Muse album.
Mike: I listen to Kate Bush and White Rose Movement , they’re like a Joy Division kind of sounding, they are a really good band. We listen to a lot of rock, film scores…
Chris: Lots of Radio 4…(laughs) Lots of classical radio…
Mike: Basically we don’t listen to house music or dance music.
Chris: We do a lot really…
Mike: We do but we listen to it in the studio…
Chris: Where I’m generally listening to the sound of Mike talking…(huge laughs again)

And you did a fantastic Y4K mix CD for Distinctive where the Intro is just outstanding. Is it a track of yours?

Chris: Yeah, it’s a track that we did for Man On Fire called The Drop, but it didn’t really make it to the score, so we used it. We did this mix for BBC 6 that you may like…
Mike: It starts with the quietest ambient tracks and ends up on drum and bass.

Yeah, I remember this mix, it’s a great one and the last track was Grooverider, right?

Mike: Yes, the last track was by Grooverider.

Special thanks to 10x.cc for letting this interview happen.

by Kee @ 21 May 2007, 21:06
Great Interview Nice Scoop on the UNKLE - Burn My Shadow Remix ...

well done ..

/ Kee
by Shaggan @ 22 May 2007, 00:01
Yeah...good interview ....next day guys went to my country ...Poland.... hahah.. ...Hybrid Roxx... =)
by Jolly @ 22 May 2007, 22:42
That's the best interview with Hybrid i've ever seen!! Great work!
by none @ 23 May 2007, 03:17
good one =)


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18.05.2007  (CE)