Interview, Hybrid Minds
Words by Mat Taylor
Hybrid Minds have been releasing their distinctive brand of high energy, dancefloor friendly, liquid drum and bass since 2012. With a brand new album “Elements” set for release on June 23rd 2017 as well as their own music outlet Hybrid Music, this production and DJ partnership are going from strength to strength. I caught up with the rising stars for a quick chat about influences, touring and their thoughts on everything from the current state of the scene to making decisions you don’t really want to have to make.
What influenced you to start making music?
Matt: I started DJing when I was about 13 and would buy records with whatever little money I had at the time. This passion for the music eventually developed in to a curiosity for the production side of things.
Josh: Similar to Matt, I got into DJing first and gradually, over time, I started to analyse how the music itself structured. Eventually I wanted to learn as much as I could so I could start creating music using my own ideas.
How did you guys meet?
Me & Josh both ran record labels before Hybrid Minds was conceived, we just got talking and shared a mutual love for music.
Why did you gravitate towards the liquid sound?
We always loved the melodic side of things so we decided to put our shared passion into a new project which was to become Hybrid Minds. We actually started out with a pretty open mind set in terms of what we planned to make. Early on we would create anything we wanted. Tracks that ranged from dark rollers to glitchy minimalistic drum & bass but eventually we found our trademark sound with tracks like “Meant to be” & “Lost”. Over time that sound has just evolved naturally to where we are now.
What can people expect from one of your DJ shows? Do you play across the board or do you mainly focus on your own releases and similar artists/styles?
We like to mix it up when it comes to sets, we play a lot of our own tracks, a few high energy ones and a few classics for good measure. We like to change the pace of our shows so they don’t become boring. Based on our own personal experience of going out to events, we have found too much of one style all night can be a bit taxing on the ears. Our most enjoyable sets will find a good middle ground between high energy and melody that keeps everyone happy.
Where have you enjoyed playing the most and where would you most like to play?
All the big festival shows are great. It’s hard not to love any of those when there’s so many people in front of you, it really doesn’t get any less surreal as the years go by. Saying that, with the right place and the right promoter, the smaller nights can have more of an electric atmosphere. It’s hard to pin point one show in particular that was the absolute best but a lot of them hold a special place in our hearts. It’s hard to pick where we’d most want to play, I suppose main stage Glastonbury is at the top of every musicians list. The moon would be pretty sick as well.
What is your current production set up?
We are both running an iMac with Logic Pro X and an assortment of VST’s. We both have some hardware but rarely use it to be honest. Some hardware includes NI Maschine and a Virus TI.
What was the first drum and bass tune, album or release that got you in to the scene?
Matt: For me the starting point was probably in early 2000, one of the first tracks I got was The Fugees – Ready Or Not (DJ Hype Remix.) My collection grew from there. I became obsessed with how drum & bass could be so diverse and have something for everyone. Back then there was less pigeon holing of genres, so in record shops they would just hand you all the latest records and you’d buy whatever, nothing like today’s mentality where it can be all very elitist and people often confine themselves quite strictly to one sub genre.
Josh: I think the 1st liquid track that grabbed me was Mr Majestic by Calibre and High Contrast. When it came to DJing I remember learning to mix with Benny Page – Turn Down The Lights.
In just two years, you have established yourselves as one of the driving forces in soulful, liquid drum and bass. Did you imagine things would happen this quickly or were you surprised by the reaction your music has created among fans?
We never set out to make waves so to speak but we couldn’t be happier that we can now say we have a strong fanbase, it’s a huge honour. We set out with the sole intention of just writing music we both enjoyed producing. We were fortunate enough to get some support from some of the big names in the scene and that eventually led to us getting uploads on some of the more popular YouTube channels like UKF & Liquicity. A combination of all of those things helped us to make a career out of it & we couldn’t be more thankful to everyone involved.
You have collaborated with some incredible artists such as Riya and Grimm, plus you were given the opportunity to remix one of Jakwob’s tunes. Who would you like to work with next?
We have so many people we’d love to work with, especially on the outside of drum & bass. People like Daughter, Burial and Ben Howard are at the top of our list but these are just pipe dreams at the moment.
You seem to be going from strength to strength with shows in the Netherlands, London, Austria and beyond. Can you give us a quick run down of what we can expect from you guys in terms of releases, tours and projects?
We’ve not long finished our album so that has dominated our focus for the last few years. Now that it’s completed we can move on and start writing more music, maybe future singles, remixes, whatever opportunities arise really. Right now, we have a couple of remixes due for release, the first being for Sigma, a track called “Lost Away”, we have a couple more lined up but it’s probably too early to talk about those right now.
As relative newcomers to the scene, what’s your opinion on vinyl? Is it still important or should we all just move on and stop living in the past?
We love it. It’s the whole physical product and package thing with us. It’s nice to be able to hold music in your hands and have that experience with it. It has changed over the years into something that’s less tailored for a DJ and more to a consumer to listen to at home and have something to show support to an artist.
However, with regards to DJ sets, it’s always important to remember your roots but times have definitely changed. We both started on vinyl so it will always hold a special place in our hearts but it’s just not practical to carry vast amounts of records around the world. It’s what works for the individual, really. There shouldn’t be any negative comments thrown at someone just because of the tools they use to do their job, so long as they do a good job.
Leading on from that, dubplates used to be the absolute lifeblood of the scene but new music is now available to anybody with access to promo lists. Do you think the quantity of new music available is affecting quality control? Or is there enough room for everything?
I think it’s the same with anything. There is stuff that one person will like that another wont like. It’s really not a big deal. It’s easy enough to follow an artist without getting lost. I think it’s an amazing sign for anything in terms of success if there are lots of people are doing it, it just means that the family gets bigger. There’s so many people listening to this music now, there’s room for everything. Personally, I don’t like a lot of heavy metal but I’m not going to bitch about it.
The way people consume music has changed, everything has to be instant now with streaming services taking the lead. People need to be able to buy a track or stream it the moment they hear it. That means that the gap between giving your friends a track to play out and releasing it are far closer now. Things have changed, but it’s mostly a really positive thing.
People like Andy C, Friction, Chase and Status and many more are now major draws at festivals and large, multi genre events. Could you see yourself moving in to a more performance based set up in terms of your live show? Or would you prefer to keep it simple and focus on DJing?
We would love to. When the time is right we might look into it. We have toyed with the ideas of doing sets with vocalists and did a couple last year that were really fun. Honestly, we absolutely love DJing as well, though, so its not something we are going to force.
Finally, a daft one… With the upcoming UK elections, I think it’s fair to say that people are being forced to make a difficult choice between a few unappealing options. With that in mind, if you had to choose between an extra limb that grew out of your back or an invisible sidekick who was relentlessly critical of everything you did, which would it be? Please explain your answer.
Josh: Critical sidekick for sure, he is already in my head daily.
Thanks very much for taking the time out to speak to us.
You can find all of Hybrid Minds latest releases, downloads and merchandise here.