Shambala is drawing ever closer and to say I’m excited is an understatement. Four days off from the world in the countryside with some great people and great music is heaven really and once producer that I’m really looking forward to seeing is Hint, a producer who has been dropping some glorious bass, beats and breaks for years. With a sound that encompasses the likes of hip hop, drum and bass, soul and rock he manages to lay down some truly beautiful music. Having been first introduced to him through his critically acclaimed Portakabin Fever album on Ninja Tune, I’ve been inspired by his tunes ever since right through to his latest album Daily Intake, released this year, which is an absolute cracker. I’m very excited to see what e has in store for next weekend and what’s even better is he’s playing a Live set. I caught up with him ahead of Shambala to find out more.
What is your first musical memory and what was it that got you interested in electronic music?
My earliest musical memories come from my Dad. When I was 4 or 5 he’d come and sit down with a guitar while I was having a bath and play various songs he knew – The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel. That kind of thing. He’d talk about why he liked certain songs and explain how some singers sang too high for his voice, so he had to change the chords… it gave me a pretty good grasp of certain concepts early on, like chords, melody and harmony.
My interest in electronic music started around the age of 11 or 12. It was mainly through the chart music at the time, when house and hip hop (and mixtures of the two) were breaking through into the mainstream in the very late 80s and early 90s. Stuff like Technotronic, Silver Bullet, Adventures of Stevie V and D-Mob got a lot of play in my walkman. I got really fascinated by the concept of sampling. I remember watching acts like Black Box on Top Of The Pops and understanding that the woman on TV wasn’t really singing – it was a sample getting triggered on a keyboard.
Your sound has such a summery sunshine feel. Do you find yourself constantly in a good mood when you produce this or are you ready to release some dark techno to showcase your moody side?
I’m not sure. I’m definitely not into overly dark electronic music, so I’m not the kind of person that naturally gravitates towards making that style for whatever reason. I do think I make serious music though – it’s just not oppressively serious. My first album has some kitschy or twee elements that I’d rather weren’t in there, but I made it a while ago and that’s just the way it came together at the time I suppose.
How did the deal with Ninja Tune come about?
It’s a pretty unexciting story I’m afraid. I was living in Leicester when I started producing and I was friends with a guy called Joe 90, who now runs Futureboogie. I used to play him my new tracks as I was making them. He knew a lot of Bristol people, including a guy called Jamie, who ran a label called Hombre Records. Joe 90 passed on some of my tracks to Jamie Hombre, we had a meeting and I agreed to record an album for Hombre. Just as I’d finished the album and it was ready to roll, Hombre ended up doing a deal with Ninja Tune to co-release some records, and mine was the first. I was technically signed to Ninja Tune, but the album was released as a Hombre record.
It ended up being more complicated than necessary, due to various boring factors, but Ninja were very good to me and continue to push my first album, so I’m pleased with the way it worked. I left Ninja and moved on to Tru Thoughts around 2005 though.
After Portakabin Fever came out you were personally invited by John Peel to record a legendary Peel session. How was this? The man is personally one of my all time heroes.
It was actually before the album came out – it was right after my first release on a small Leicester label called Deep Water. They sent out DJ promos in 2001 and within a few days they were called by John Peel’s producer inviting me in for a session.
It was a dream come true, of course. At the time, there were bands who had been recording for years and years who might never have had such an opportunity, so for someone like me to know that a) John Peel listened to my music and b) he wanted to support it, it blew my mind.
It can be hard for people outside music to understand what you do and why, so when I was able to say to my Dad “John Peel has invited me to do a session”, it was something we could share and be excited about together. People in the UK, across so many generations, know John Peel and what he represents. I can honestly say it changed my life.
You’ve been putting out releases for over 10 years now, what’s the most positive change you’ve noticed in the scene since you started out?
I guess the main thing is that since sales figures fell off a cliff 5 years ago, there’s a lot less money around. So this means you get fewer people thinking they’re hot stuff after only one release, and the people who are still going after 5, 10 or 15 years are generally competent, have some integrity and are good to work with.
Daily Intake came out this year. Are you happy with the response? Was it a long album to make and how did the collaborations come about?
I’m very happy with the response! From my first release and the Peel Session onwards, I’ve been very lucky to have received good reactions from people I’ve admired and respected for years. The album took a while to make, but these things don’t happen in a straight line. Some tracks were written years ago, “lost”, then rediscovered and updated. Other tracks were written a couple of weeks before the album was finalised and mastered.
The collaborations all happened in different ways. For some of them, I just approached vocalists I liked and asked if they wanted to work on music with me. A couple of the others were suggested by the guys at Tru Thoughts. I was pretty lucky that 90% of my attempts to work with other people on the album came through for me. A couple of collaborations were unfortunately lost – one through technical issues and another through contractual issues.
What artists should people keep an ear out for?
Lots of great producers are starting to come up in Brighton – Guy Andrews, Manni Dee, Murder He Wrote, Alphabet’s Heaven. Mojek from Chicago is fresh. There’s also lots of fine music coming out of Glasgow / Scotland – HaHaHa, Mia Dora, Rashka, S Type.
As far as more established names go, I always check out anything from Zed Bias, Seiji, Kenny Dope and Karizma.
What can people expect from your Shambala set and why should they come see you?
People can expect a non-stop furious run through of my productions and remixes, blended and re-arranged on the fly. They should come and see me because they’ll hear things they haven’t heard before, across various tempos, which is better for your mind and body than hearing some DJ run though the 15 most rinsed bangers in a single genre or whatever. Plus, I promise I will wear a nice shirt, chew with my mouth closed and be polite to their parents.
Big up to Hint for the interview. Catch him next weekend at Shambala Festival. Tickets are still available by clicking the link but are selling fast as it looks to be a sell out.