Saturday, November 14, 2009
Within the general dubstep-grime-funky space, this year has been one of shifting sands and moving boundaries, with much of the change catalysed by house and funky. Exciting takes on these elements have come of late from Kowton, Joy Orbison and Jam City, while Mosca seems to be getting a lot of attention, and that doesn’t even mention many of the flagship funky producers like Cooly G, Crazy Cousins, Roska and co.
As the sands shifted this year, a new artist crept into Dusk and my Rinse FM sets, Hackman, that had a great take on at 130bpm tempo. Like the best of funky, it seems to zig zag between polar opposites rather than choosing one extreme to pursue. Hackman’s sound is characterised by warm analog sub bass and asymmetric percussion layered over a 4x4 base. But there’s an abundance of interesting groove and warm bass in the 130ish/funky spectrum: what makes Hackman’s sound stand out from the crowd is a great propensity for saccharine sweet melodies that contrast with the dark sub and scattered drums. These melodies seem to echo MJ Cole’s turn of the millennium 2step productions, with lush touches despite a tuff club exoskeleton.
So with one of his tracks now signed to a Fabric compilation, here’s an interview and exclusive mix.
Hackman mix for Blackdown: download it HERE.
Hackman "Blacksnake" (Dub)
Hackman "Feel It" (Dub)
Hackman "Multicultural" (Shifting Peaks Recordings)
Hackman "Funky Tune" (Dub)
Hackman "Always the Same" (Shifting Peaks Recordings)
Hackman "Dusk" (Dub)
Rio Rhythm Band "Carnival Da Cassa (Hackman Remix)" (Dub)
Hackman "Illusionz" (Studio Rockers)
Hackman "Pistol in Your Pocket" (Fabric)
Silkie "The Horizon (Hackman Remix)"(Dub)
Hackman & Bluto "Untitled" (Dub)
Blackdown: To start at the top, can you tell me a bit about who you are, where you’re from…?
Hackmann: I'm from a small village I doubt anyone would have heard of in the south west countryside. Music has been a prominent part of my life since a very early age where my parents forced me (though I'm now grateful) to play the piano and violin. From that I've had a very classical upbringing, being in involved in school orchestras and concerts. After finishing school, I'm now at Leeds College of Music, doing a 3 year production course.
B: Tell me about the totally mental animated gif you use on your Dubstep Forum signature? It seems to perfectly reflect the melodic technicolour in your sound. Tell me you’ll use it on any future label art!
H: Ha, found it by chance on someone's MySpace, can't remember who and nicked it, though its from some big American hip hop artists music video I’m now told, like Xzibit or someone, so don't think that’s possible for label art! Would definitely take some inspiration from it.
B: How long have you been producing for and what made you start?
H: For about 2 and a half years. I used to listen to a lot of d&b, and got my first laptop around the same time, which came with Garageband. Tried to make a few tracks on there, which were pretty shit, but luckily my dad got Logic 6 near the same time so was able to start using that. Soon after that a mate introduced me to midnight request line and was hard on the production ever since then.
B: You produce dubstep and funky, when did funky begin to inspire you and how do you decide which style to approach?
H: Its funny, always used to walk out for an extended smoke during Kode 9 sets at DMZ or exodus when he'd start playing funky. Properly started to get into it about April time, when I heard Roska's two EPs, Elevated levels and Climate change. Since then, haven't made a dubstep tune, except for a colab or two with mates, mainly because it doesn't interest me anymore, and the stuff that still does is all this future garage business, especially all the Blunted Robots stuff.
B: Your funky is what has really grabbed Dusk and I this year for our Rinse show, can you tell me how you approach it?
H: I usually just sit down at the computer with no real idea of what I’m going to do. I always start with the beats, and usually aim to get a solid catchy melody over some, in my opinion, nice chord progressions. Then I usually finish with the bass, as well as additional percussion or samples.
B: You seem to have a great balance between clean melodies and ruff sub bass that reminds me of MJ Cole, what’s the inspiration behind this approach?
H: Probably a lot of MJ Cole, as well as all the old skool 2 step stuff, I think that’s the best music around, just wish I’d been old enough to go out to those nights!
B: You also have a great approach to percussion, using great off kilter/asymmetrical patterns in the bars: what’s your thinking on this?
H: I think the rhythms the most important element of a track, I always like to be able to groove to my beats without any other parts playing. Usually put a lot of syncopation to get that swing in, but a lot of it is trial and error
B: One of your tracks has been signed or licensed by Fabric (since announced by Fact Magazine, how did that come about?
H: Through posting my tracks up on Dubstep Forum, they'd been keeping an eye on my MySpace, then when I put up “Pistol in Your Pocket” they sent me a message, was very happy!
B: Where would you like to get to in your musical career, in the near future?
H: Would really like to be at the stage where I’m trading dubs with all my favorite producers and be at the point where I don't have to get a day job.