Two brand new albums released at the same time? What is going on?
On October 31st A-Wave Records will simultaneously release the full power System 7 X-Port album and the more chilled Mirror System album titled N-Port. This ambitious release plan celebrates the 21 year anniversary of System 7’s seminal Fire and Water dual albums and presents the full range of Hillage and Giraudy’s work in the field of electronica. Launching the separate albums with some special Live shows, System 7 and Mirror System play The Jazz Cafe in London on Wednesday October 28th and headline the Megadog 30th Anniversary event on November 21st at The Academy in Manchester.
X-Port is the new album release of System 7 – the dance music project of Steve Hillage and Miquette Giraudy, presenting a unique combination of techno and trance beats and live musicianship, and which has had a strong influence on the development of psychedelic ambient and electronic music. X-Port is the first full System 7 studio album release since ‘UP’ in 2011 and features collaborations with Alex Paterson (of The Orb), Japanese band Rovo (with whom System 7 released the collaborative album Phoenix Rising in 2013) and James Monro.
Mirror System is the more ambient sister project to System 7, specializing in the chill-out and downtempo aspect of their sound, with deep rolling grooves, a subtle blend of rich dreamy electronics and guitar and soft minimal tech-house elements. N-Port by Mirror System features collaborations with Alex Paterson (of The Orb) and Jam El Mar (of Jam & Spoon) and also an epic Mirror System remix of Perfect Stranger’s track “Free Cloud”. System 7 continues to be one of the UK’s leading Live techno lights with headline shows at festivals and events including Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival and Italy’s Sonica Festival this summer.
From Steve’s early presence in Planet Gong and the revered ambient opus “Rainbow Dome Musick”, there’s a cutting experimental edge that runs through their work including championing and working early on with Detroit’s Techno godfather Derrick May on the ‘Mysterious Traveller’ and seminal ‘Fire’ and ‘Water’s dual albums, which had a marked influence on the electronic artists that followed – check out Sheffield’s Warp label for Black Dog, B12, Autechre, and AFX. System 7’s productions and DJ sets are deep and energising being firmly aimed at the dancefloor, and many of dance music’s leading visionaries have collaborated and remixed their music including Richie Hawtin, A Guy Called Gerald, Carl Craig, Dubfire , Laurent Garnier and of course The Orb on the classic 40-minute No 1 single ‘Blue Room’ and ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’.
And beyond dance, Steve produced the groundbreaking early 80s Simple Minds albums ‘Sons & Fascination’ and ‘Sister Feelings Call ‘, which featured their classic instrumental Themes For Great Cities, which would later become a defining Balearic anthem championed by the likes of Paul Oakenfold and Danny Rampling. Nicky Trax gets stuck in…
A simultaneous album release for System 7’s ’X-Port’ and Mirror System’s ‘N-Port’ album – how did this come about?
We started off this particular project on a long extended trip to Hong Kong and Bali in 2012. We brought some equipment with us for writing music and came up with some good ideas for both Mirror System and System 7. When we came back we were planning to do make two wholly separate albums to be finished and released at different times, but then we started thinking about how we were close to an anniversary of Point 3 Fire and Water. One day we just thought hey, let’s do both albums at the same time and release them simultaneously!
What kind of sounds can we expect to hear from these albums?
We’d very much like to think that we’ve progressed in the 21 years since Fire and Water. We’re just using the Fire and Water concept as an element, in what we feel is a cool way of presenting the full spectrum of our current musical world. A lot of the sounds on N-Port and X-Port are fresh and new and we’ve had some fantastic input from our collaborators:- Alex Paterson, Jam El Mar, James Monro, Perfect Stranger and Rovo. We’ve tested quite a few of the tracks as trial versions at some of our gigs over the last couple of years, both Mirror System and System 7. We are really into the synergy between live performance and making tracks in the studio.
Any favourite track from the album?
We’re genuinely happy with the way these albums work as complete albums. I suppose we do have favourite tracks but that waxes and wanes a bit. One track, that we finished a bit earlier, has definitely stood the test of time and that is the X-Port Version of Chic Psychedelic, which incidentally is definitely the best performing track on the new album on iTunes and streaming – it’s got a really cool title too. And we would have to mention the great track ‘Warn The West’, which we did with Alex Paterson that opens the N-Port album.
You guys are always busy with Live shows and DJing, can you tell us some of this year’s personal highlights
We played a fantastic show in Tokyo in March this year to 1500 people and that really launched us into the final phase of work on the new albums. Another show that was particularly special for us was our main stage System 7 set at the amazing Ozora festival in Hungary – a real wow moment!
What’s coming up for you over the next few months…
We’re just about to play our album release party show at the Jazz Café in London and it looks like it’s going to be a big success. We’re going to play 2 sets – Mirror System and System 7 and we will be joined by our collaborator Alex Paterson (of The Orb) and Italian techno DJ Calemma. Then in late November we start a run of shows with the big Megadog Anniversary party at Manchester Academy (Nov 21st), which also looks like it will be a sell-out. Then we play Nottingham (Nov 26th) and Southampton (Nov 27th). Just after this we head to Japan for another 6 shows, including a Tokyo show at the legendary Liquid Room venue, and then we finish off back in London again for a show at the Shepherds Bush Empire with Hawkwind.
Can you tell us 7 things about System 7 we might not know or we should know
1. People think our name System 7 was taken from the name of the Apple operating system software in the early 90s. This isn¹t true. We had the name before that.
2. We had to change our name to 777 for a while because we had a complaint from a rock band called System Seven but they faded away after a while and we reverted back to the name System 7.
3. The first ever System 7 live show was also the first ever Orb show (Linford Studios 1990).
4. We were working with Alex Paterson of The Orb on 11th September 2001 in the studio. At the actual moment the towers were falling we made a special music jam to try and bring good energy into the world.
5. Our label name A-Wave signifies ‘AlphaWave’, our biggest ever track.
6. Jam El Mar (Jam and Spoon), who we worked with on the ‘Phoenix’ album, was a fan of Gong and The Steve Hillage Band when he was young in the late 70s.
7. Our first ever System 7 Japanese video was in 1992 for the song ‘Freedom Fighters’, with Japanese singer Monday Michiru and Manchester rapper Aniff Cousins (a friend of A Guy Called Gerald)
What was your first break?
I wouldn’t say we really had a big break at System 7, but it was a good moment when Virgin Records in 1989, after pestering me for years to make another rock album, agreed to support our new dance music project. Meeting Alex Paterson and Derrick May at that time was also important because we created enduring relationships that last to this day from which we learned a lot and made some great tracks.
You seem to be part of a global underground of like-minded producers. DJs and promoters whose networking keeps you all busy much of the time – how did you forge your international links/friends??
It¹s an organic thing, starting in the 1970s through our links to the German psychedelic music scene (Can, Neu, Kraftwerk, Manuel Gottsching etc), to Glastonbury Festival and other aspects of the UK festival movement, and to the Turbosound sound system inventors (now called Funktion One). These a major roots of the UK ‘rave’ and dance music scene that has spread across the globe.
How does it feel to have been on top of the scene for the past 20 years?
We love what we do and as long as we keep having fun, learning new things, and meeting interesting people we will continue onwards and upwards.
System 7’s ‘X-Port’ album is simultaneously released with Mirror System’s ‘N-Port’ album and out now on A-Wave Records http://www.a-wave.com System 7 and Mirror System’s Live dates are Wednesday October 28th at the Jazz Cafe, London; Saturday November 21st at Megadog 30th Anniversary Event at The Academy, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PR; Thursday 26th November at The Rescue Rooms, Masonic Place, Goldsmith Street, Nottingham and Friday November 27th at The Talking Heads, 320 Portswood Road, Southampton, SO17 2TD.