Disappear Here (2010)
BBP: Each of your albums has a distinctive sound but your new album Disappear Here has been the greatest 'evolution' to date. How do you decide which sound is right when making an album?
Hybrid [Mike]: It's a constant mental battle and basically a process of trial and error. We practically finished the album in 2008 but weren't quite happy with how it sounded so we took it apart and reworked everything we did like and started again.
We definitely wanted the album to have more life and not be so constrained by the electronics and songs were always going to be a big part of the picture. That's why it's probably more a departure than previous albums but we hope all the expected Hybrid sounds are present and correct.
With every album you get another chance to go where you haven't ventured before, that's the beauty of a band's development and we're lucky enough to be given a fresh slate every time we do an album.
BBP: Disappear Here is much more of a 'song based' album than the previous three, can you tell us about the inspiration and meanings behind some of the songs? Perhaps Green Shell Suit pays some homage to Andy Page's classic Yellow Tracksuit?
Hybrid [Charlotte]: You're right there, it's a doff of the cap in the direction of Mr Page....
We were all going to wear luminescent green shell-suits at our gigs, but apparently there's quite a significant fire risk there when you mix shell suits with hot stage lighting and also you can be electrocuted by the static created between the legs when you move ... ouch!
As for the meaning behind some of the songs - the title track describes someone who is in such an awful situation that she imagines herself as not really there but then gains the courage as the song goes on to turn the tables and make the tormentor disappear instead of herself.
Numb describes life passing you by, washing over you, and even though you can try the next new thing that will supposedly make you feel different or more alive, the only person who is in control of how you feel is yourself, even if that feeling is of being numb.
The album is a journey from beginning to end, and it's set out to take you through that journey. Your life in your hands.
BBP: The first track on the album, Empire, has transformed a couple times but originates back to a score done by Harry on Déjà Vu. Are there any plans for releasing, or re-tooling some of the other Hybrid remixes of Harry Gregson-Williams tracks in the future?
Hybrid [Mike]: Unfortunately, getting clearance to release remixes of film score material is notoriously hard, especially if the orchestra was recorded in LA. Because of union rules, it's highly unlikely without paying a small fortune in repeat fees.
Empire had a couple of elements from the remix of Déjà Vu that we thought were too good not to use, especially as the remix would never officially be released. Everything else, including the orchestral arrangement are totally new so it warranted a different title.
BBP: You composed your first full movie score for Catacombs and have now done a second full score for Exile To Babylon. Catacombs had little bits of music from I Choose Noise and even a Sinequanon remix, will we hear bits from Disappear Here in Exile To Babylon and do you find that not being considered a 'classical composer' restricts your opportunities in film score work?
Hybrid [Mike]: I don't think there's anything from I Choose Noise in the Catacombs score as we wrote the album after we finished the film, however we did use the same cellist called Martin Tillman for both projects, who has a very distinctive sound.
A version of Sinequanon was included in the Catacombs score, a film set in Paris with us writing the music seemed like a great opportunity to sneak in our slightly barmy French trip hop track.
I don't think not being considered classical composers affects our film work, you need to be able to score orchestrally if necessary and not being able to do that certainly would put a lot of studios off. It's more about the integration of orchestral sounds and electronic / sound design textures that interests us and is what we're known for.
BBP: Hybrid are well known for their soundscapes, many of which are created by mangling things through Reaktor... what is the oddest source sound you have used and which song did it end up in (if you can remember)?
Hybrid [Mike]: Chris recorded some background ambience at a baseball game some time ago and made this demented vocodered / granualised pad which links City Siren to Salt. A totally unusual source which had this beautiful texture, he takes great pleasure in warping the most bizarre sound sources into something totally unexpected.
BBP: Although really difficult to pinpoint you guys in a single genre, you really embraced Progressive Breaks during its height before things shifted to a more tech house, minimal focus. Has Hybrid been watching the new Progressive Breaks scene coming out of Eastern Europe (9b0, Mesmer, Retroid etc.)?
Hybrid: Absolutely! Adam from Retroid sends us loads of his work and he's the current front runner to my mind. There's also some great records being made in Russia and the Ukraine.
It's a pity breaks fell out of favor in the UK, I guess it was just time for a change and the scene wasn't producing as exciting music as other genres.
All it takes is a few amazing tracks and remixes to get everyone fired up again and I do think breaks will return but it needs a fresh take on it and there's things already starting to happen...
BBP: Your last compilation Soundsystem 01, Disappear here and your recent mix for Sinning In LA.com all showcased some of your more downtempo material and beatless mixes. Is Soundsystem 02 in the cards?
Hybrid: Without a shadow of a doubt! We had loads of fun putting that compilation together, although we did give the lovely people at Hope an absolute nightmare of time licensing all those film score tracks.
We found that dividing our sound up between glitchy downtempo / score and throbbing club tracks gave us enough scope to make a compilation we'd want to listen to.
CD1 is a bit of a marmite job though. Some people totally got it, others wondered if we'd fallen asleep and slid the pitch control all the way down by mistake! That was one of the finest irate comments I'd ever heard about one of our releases.
I think I'm more of a CD1 person, Chris is definitely all about CD2.
BBP: Back on the topic of Disappear Here, we saw in previews for the album that John Graham recorded vocals and the first attempt needed a complete re-think. Can you tell us a little about the first version?
Hybrid: John came over from LA and recorded with us on quite a few occasions, we finished off a few tracks for his album and for ours and we just found that the sound we were working on at the time didn't fit with what we eventually came up with on the finished album.
There's probably about 30 tracks altogether that are sitting on the hard drive in various states of completion that didn't make it, we just had to take the collection of music that sat together the best and released that.
John's an incredibly talented producer and his new solo LP is going to be spectacular, we're big fans of his work.
BBP: The Can You Hear Me 'Kill City' Dub ventures into dubstep and Break My Soul in essence has a Drum N' Bass tempo, both relatively uncharted territories for Hybrid, what styles can we expect to hear from Hybrid in the future?
Hybrid [Mike]: We're already plotting the next album which we should start working on early next year, there certainly won't be another 4 year gap between LPs!! Our management certainly wouldn't allow that and we're already in the planning stages. You can definitely expect things to get a little out of hand on the next one...
BBP: Charlotte, you come from a strong singer / songwriter background firmly outside of dance music; however, you seem to have transitioned brilliantly into Hybrid... even working with Tim Hutton to cohesively pull off a duet (quite a feat in EDM). What do you feel is the biggest thing you have learned working on Disappear Here?
Hybrid [Charlotte]: Well actually my background in music covers many genres. For some reason I think when you describe yourself as a singer songwriter, it immediately evokes images of folk music, camp fires and lute playing, strumming a guitar and crying out chips and gravy songs into a waft of incense stick smoke.
I've got quite varied musical tastes, but you're right in saying that I never wrote a dance track... actually I did write a dance track about three years ago which sampled some of the strings from The Shawshank Redemption which I called 'Lamb Shank Redemption' but I don't think anyone but me will ever hear it.
I do play it occasionally, but it got so complicated, I went completely over the top and it's got about 48 tracks of programming on it so mostly it just crashes the computer.
I am more instrument-based and I do the live instrument side of Hybrid, guitars, piano and strings, plus anything I can hit that makes a noise. Chris does the sound Design, so takes what I've done and transforms it into a slightly more twisted version of what it was and Mike does the production, programming and mixing.
It's all been a learning curve for all of us really because whilst writing the album it's been very exciting to bounce ideas off each other to come up with an array of new ideas.
It's all a big learning curve for all of us because we're all determined to try out new things - we don't want to do the same thing twice.
Disappear Here (Widescreen Edition)
A massive thank you to Mike and Charlotte for being kind enough to answer our questions, Distinctive for helping make this interview possible and everyone who submitted their questions about Disappear Here.
Interview by Chris (4/16/2010)
Edited by Andy