There’s something inarguably beautiful about the Internet’s ability to snowball music worth hearing. In 2012, an art history student in Vancouver remixed Destiny’s Child’s ‘Say My Name’ in his bedroom, stuck it up on Soundcloud and inadvertently found fame overnight.
While the rest of us were at house parties drunkenly fumbling to find the track on YouTube, its producer Cyril Hahn got busy remixing Solange, Jessie Ware and Haim to bring us more of that sexy lo-fi sound that he does so well.
After a heavy international festival circuit this Summer, Hahn took the time out to share the secret to a good remix, and tell us about his forthcoming double a-side Perfect Form (ft. Shy Girls)/ Raw Cut, out October 7th.
How did you get into producing?
I always played instruments as a hobby - guitar, banjo even - and had already recorded some of my own stuff in high school but that was just for fun. After taking a break for music I gave it a shot again last year and that’s how the remixes came about.
How do you choose which tracks to remix?
I usually look for vocal melodies that stand out to me. The lyrics are secondary for a remix usually. If the lyrics are horrible, as they are in my first ever remix - Mariah Carey’s ‘Touch My Body’ - for example, it adds a nice sense of irony to the remix. When I work on originals I am definitely looking for more profound lyrics though.
Why do you distort vocals in the way that you do when you remix, and specifically, to masculinise them?
I’ve done less distorting in the last couple of months but when I started out I listened to a lot of chopped and screwed rap/R&B which definitely influenced how I treated a cappellas at the time. There’s just something really interesting happening when you pitch down a female a cappella - it becomes a bit haunting and eerie which I like.
Your remixes have all been absolutely huge, now you’re signed to PMR and producing your own music. Do you feel that you need to distinguish yourself or do you think that the success of those remixes stands your new material in good stead?
The official remix I did for Jessie Ware is sort of how my relationship with PMR Records started, but I don’t really differentiate between originals and remixes too much. I put the same amount of work into both and I try to have a unique sound in both originals and remixes.
How would you describe the direction you took on your double-side?
'Raw Cut' is more of a lo-fi synthi track that was an instrumental at first and I just wanted to add some little chops at the end. With 'Perfect Form' I started with the a cappella that Shy Girls sent over and then built the song around the vocals.
You’re in Vancouver, Shy Girls are Oregon based; how did the collaboration come about?
I instantly fell in love with his music after hearing ‘Under Attack’ on Soundcloud. We reached out to him and a few days after we were already throwing ideas back and forth. It was definitely a super smooth and fun collaboration and I’d love to work with Dan (Vidmar) again.
You’re playing Bestival. Did Rob da Bank ask you? I hear that he’s a fan. What’s in store for your set?
Yeah we’ve been in contact after I did a mix for Rob’s show on BBC. I usually like to start my sets pretty slow and mellow and then build the energy level gradually. I definitely love visuals and I think they’re especially useful for DJs/producers who stand on the stage by themselves. My friend Denis Ogrinc does my visuals and they’re amazing, I can’t wait for the people to see them at Bestival.
What other music are you into at the moment? Who have you seen live lately that impressed?
My favourites lately are Ta-Ku, Andre Bratten, Jessy Lanza…I haven’t been to a lot of shows since I started playing shows myself to be honest. I prefer to do more quiet stuff in my free time. After one of my shows in Dublin I caught a B2B set by Four Tet and Daphni though, that was definitely amazing.
I’m super excited for the ‘Perfect Form’ single to be released in October. After that we’ll probably do an EP. In September I’m back in Europe for two weeks for a couple of shows and right after that my North American tour will start. That one will go until early November and then I’m back in Europe for the Annie Mac Tour - definitely lots of shows to look forward to!
Interview by Amelia Abraham
It’s a rainy afternoon in California and Jennifer Herrema is sat in her car outside the craft store where she’s just been buying magic markers to draw up some of the artwork for her current band, Black Bananas’ new album. She’s wearing a coyote fur jacket, Grateful Dead t-shirt, ripped up jeans and python skin boots. Despite hailing from Maryland, she talks in a West coast, stoner-like drawl as she reflects on her time in seminal alt-rock band Royal Trux with ex boyfriend and band mate Neil Hagerty.
So Domino Records are re-releasing the Royal Trux album Veterans of Disorder? It’s a lot more playful than your other stuff, almost a pastiche…
Yeah, I don’t consider VOD as an album but a collection of singles. No one song defines the album. ‘Waterpark’ has a really straightforward kind of pop-y sound and then ‘Coming Out Party’ is more rambling. We just wrote and then instead of doing the instrumentation the same all the way through the album and using the same musicians, we would look at the tone and character of each song and just kind of, respect it.
What’s ‘Coming Out Party’ about?
Uhhh, you know, it was just kind of about… people, dilettantes. Fuck. I’ve no idea! [Laughs]. Actually I had to write to Neil because for each of the photographs on the album art we were trying to recreate a song, and now neither one of us can remember which photograph goes with which song. So fucked up! It all made so much sense at the time…
Haha. So other than giving people a chance to see the “forgotten” album art… why re-release, why now?
Drag City told me, “You know the record’s all sold out and we got no more in the warehouse. People want to order it and stuff.” So I was like, “OK, just re-release ‘em.” It’s not about a reissue with extra songs or a re-master. It’s basically just about making more because they didn’t exist.
For much of the 90s you were signed to Virgin, so why didn’t you put out Veterans on their label?
It was kind of a mutual thing, you know, they just couldn’t get their heads around the music. They were going to do the third album with us but we didn’t really want to give it to them when they didn’t understand it.
A lot of major labels were picking up underground or alt bands at that time, and catapulting them into the mainstream. Did it change the dynamic, like Geffen with Hole maybe? Did it feel like selling out?
We didn’t want to sign with Geffen … they were meant for the new indie crop or whatever. We went to Virgin and got shit tons of money and had no problems whatsoever. Our lawyer was like, “You know you got the same deal as Whitney Houston!” Before Virgin we didn’t have any money and everything was patch-worked together or done by borrowing friends’ stuff. After signing we got to do all the things we wanted to do, on a much larger scale, using amazing studios and a producer that we loved…
Who was the producer?
David Briggs. He did early Alice Cooper, all of Neil Young. He was amazing.
Awesome. You produced all Royal Trux’s other stuff though, right? Where did you learn how to do that?
I graduated high school when I was sixteen and moved to New York City for a scholarship to The New School. It was a real progressive school. I wasn’t going to get a degree I was just going to learn about stuff I was interested in, so I ended up taking audio engineering at Planet Sound. And having the band since I was sixteen, it’s all kind of second nature at a certain point.
You were in the band a long time, what happened at the end, when things got bad?
The end was a really tough time for me and I knew at the core of it I just needed to change everything. I’d been with Neil since I was fifteen and grown up with him. I’d never been on my own. It felt cyclical; everything would be great and then I’d go off and screw up doing drugs. I’d always struggled with depression, but I was in a psychiatric ward for months and everything was just not good. I told Neil, “I have to go, I need to do things completely differently.” A lot of people were like, “How could you leave? You just got married, you got a lot of money, and you got a great band”. I thought about all those things but I was miserable so none of that shit mattered. I had to destroy it all and I did.
The name of your next band, ‘Rad Times Express’ is pretty optimistic, was it like a fresh start?
After Neil and Royal Trux I didn’t even want to do music, I just wanted to do nothing. Then I was modelling some thing for fucking Jane magazine on the West coast and met these amazing musicians. They’d never been in bands before and they were younger and they didn’t have any preconceived notions. Everything was really fresh and I felt really invigorated by that, so I ended up coming out West to work with them as RTX.
Last time you interviewed with BEAT you said you’ve done so much you must be a hundred years old. You’ve been in several bands, a model, an artist, what haven’t you done that you’d like to do?
I’m doing everything I want to do now… we just finished the new Black Bananas album and I’m running over the final sequence today actually. I also have a company with the jewellery designer Pamela Love and twice a year we’re creating limited edition things. I don’t get much free time to do anything else, but when I do get free time, shit pops into my head… I don’t know, when I was in high school I took photography and learnt how to take my own pictures and process film. It would cool to pick photography back up. I was a big fan of Nan Goldin. It was weird, Neil and I ended up living with her boyfriend Brian in New York and I saw so many outtakes of her photographs and got really into her stuff. I’d like to dedicate some time to seeing things though a photographer’s eye. I think when you’re walking around taking pictures you just see things differently.
On 18th June 2013 ELF hosted a Heartbreak Launderette panel discussion at Shoreditch House. The event featured in-depth contributions from leading journalists and academics, including:
Sonya Barber from Time Out chaired the panel, followed by an audience Q&A. Moloch Industrial, a digital production group that examines performance and identity across social media platforms, also offered a response to ELF’s Heartbreak Launderette campaign.
A summary of the event can be found here: https://storify.com/ImAliceD/elf-talks-heartbreak-launderette
Slut Night is a cabaret-style conversation about what it means to be a “slut”. Topics and debate will span celebrity sluts, man-sluts, the reappropriation of the word “slut”, #sluts, slut-shaming, slutty role models and, obviously, sex.
Curated by slut-expert Amelia Abraham, the evening will open with a stand-up comedienne Sara Pascoe’s take on the “slut” theme, before a series of anecdotal talks from noted writers and journalists including Emily Dubberley, Sophie Heawood, Nell Frizzell, Sophie Wilkinson, Hayley Campbell and Vagenda founders Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett and Holly Baxter.
Slut Night will then culminate in a special live performance by live artist Bryony Kimmings taken from her acclaimed show “Sex Idiot”, followed by drinks at the bar.
Sophie Wilkinson, Sophie Heawood, Jamie Klingler
Nell Frizzell, Hayley Campbell, Bryony Kimmings