You have quite a distinct style – there are very few producers whose sound i can begin to compare with yours. In your own words: how would you describe your music and what do you aim to create?
What draws you to your style and how do you think you developed it?
It’s just come from collecting all sorts of different music to chop up and add together. A lot of the time I will have a drum break looped up, and I will go through countless samples chopping them up and trying to layer them in over the beat – often I will find a sample that I really like but it just doesn’t sit well over the drums so I will move on and find something else, this can happen multiple times before I find the right cut.
Who are your influences, producers or otherwise?
I’m influenced by all sorts really, I love to listen to the old stuff that I go through for samples which really inspires me. As for producers, I’d have to shout Chemo and Dr. Zygote – two absolute monsters from the UK.
It feels like along time since July.11 2015! Can you tell us about the idea behind your first beat release series and what you think it did for your own progression?
Damn! Yeah its been a while. Well at that time I was starting to throw a lot of beats together and was becoming more and more consistent, or at least happier with the quality of my stuff – so I decided to start putting free EP’s out. From there it just snowballed a lot of people got behind the free releases – dropping one every month kept my activity up and helped me to grow and gain a following really quickly. People seemed to really enjoy following my progression as every month I tried to drop something better than the last.
Every release you find ways to further improve your craft or make your production more sophisticated. Is there an analytical process behind this or is it purely an artist’s personal development?
I guess a bit of both, I’m still learning and developing the way I sample, edit and mix stuff – so as I’ve learned new or different ways to do things, that new idea or technique has come across in my beats. I’ve always tried to progress from whatever I did last and hopefully this new release will continue that – I already have a backlog of new stuff to drop after this release too so I’m pretty confident I can keep pushing towards a new style.
You’ve quite unusually made quite prominent the element of DJing – scratches, vocal cuts etc. – in to your beats. How’d this come about, and were there any particular inspirations?
I have always loved cuts in hip-hop I think it adds a lot to a track, but I have to shout my boy jon first with this stuff. He showed me a lot of the techniques I know and just watching him and jamming really inspired me to continue scratching. It was a real eye opener seeing someone absolutely tear it up on decks and looking at all the nights he plays at and puts on inspired me to make a real go of the music thing myself.
You’ve also become a huge crate digger. Have you always been so in to vinyl, and how’d you go about finding your records?
I didnt start with vinyl, it was way too expensive to buy a pair of decks never mind anything else but I was always fascinated with it and felt like I was missing out not being able to pick them up. It’s only in the last few years that I have really started to search for them and regularly pick them up. These days I’m just on the hunt, there’s a lot of random spots to find strange records near where I am in Bradford – I spend as much time as I can in dodgy shops looking through house clearances haha! More recently I have had a few opportunities thanks to heavy crates and the suss and refinery boys in Dublin to visit some serious vinyl lockups and pick up some real rarities.
Similarly your tracks are full of vocal cuts from old shows; how’d you get in to that and why did you decide to bring it in to your music, and where do you find those?!
I think it adds something to a track, if I can match a vocal sample to the mood of feeling of the beat it gives me another layer to scratch or edit in helps to set the tone or gives the track a concept. I got into old sci-fi films really and generally obscure films from the 70’s and earlier. I have heard other producers use clips from films to great effect in some of their work and wanted to give this a go myself.
Before production there was drumming, and you can tell with a signature drum style (intricate, heavy, incredibly well balanced). Have you ever incorporated live drumming in to your beats and what influence has your instrumentalist past had on production?
I love to play drums, trying to replicate a lot of the heavy funk breaks is too much fun – playing drums is a great release and also a cracking way to piss off your neighbours! I have a big folder of stuff I have recorded from my own drum breaks and hits recorded at dubwhy and big sound laboratory studios to other drummers I have been lucky enough to record such as Jonathon Newell. Drums and percussion play a big part in my production – I can spend hours just working on a drum loop with all sorts of layers of percussion in there before I even look to add a sample, messing with percussion is one of my favourite things to do.
That’s pretty interesting that you are a multi instrumentalist! How do you find that finds it’s way in to using a DAW?
Tell us about West Yorkshire hip hop and particularly Sinoptic Music – are you dealing with those guys much at the moment?
Haha well Sinoptic doesn’t exist anymore as far as I’m concerned, my good friend ExP started Sinoptic years ago – it was the first label I was on and helped me to get to where I am today. After a load of unnecessary beef and a messy situation he gave that whole brand away and called it a day. However it exists now isn’t the same thing we built back then, I won’t say anymore.
You are best known for your sample-based work but you work with synths as well, although not quite as much on ‘Kites’. Why’d you decide to explore the world of synths and how does it compare?
It’s a completely fresh approach to me playing with synths and creating original stuff in general. Not a lot of people know I play guitar as well as keys so using those skills is something I’ve been meaning to do for too long. Over the last year working with this stuff has put me out of my comfort zone, its been refreshing to work on stuff that isnt sample based but this has also helped me to keep my passion for sampling stuff.
Can we expect a synth-based release soon?
YES! I’ve got a backlog of synth beats – feeling confident its my best stuff to date I can’t wait to finish the next project or two and get them pressed to vinyl.
What set up do you use at the moment?
What’s the meaning behind Kites and what does the record mean to you?
Kites is a lot more chilled out and nostalgic than my other projects, its been a difficult year and a long break from releasing stuff for me so this project represents that period. A lot of the tracks gave me the idea of calling it something to do with my hometown and local area but the kites concept really fits with everything I do and the atmosphere the beats create – also allowed me to find some really interesting vocal samples from film that tie the whole thing together.
Was the process for Kites any different? the wait seems to have been longer than between any other release.
Yeah its been a rocky road leading up to this project – before this one I have had a really quick turn around with releasing beats soon after I have finished them. With this project I have had some of the beats for months just in a raw 4 or 8 bar loop form and its only in the last month or two that I have picked the loops that fit together and finished them off with extra layers and cuts. I haven’t worked like that before and I’m looking to carry on from here releasing more regular projects.
Any plans to start bringing MCs in over your beats?
Yeah I’ve produced a lot of Lunar C’s new mixtape which should be out soon. Also been talking with Leeds’ Defenders of Style about putting a project together which should be ridiculous!
For more on Hashfinger head over to his Soundcloud