Big new album, big show at Bestival – huge future for one of the UK’s coolest live artists
Mark, welcome to DMCWORLD young man after a very hectic few months. This summer saw the release of the band’s second album ‘Amoeba’, now that the dust has settled are you happy with the reaction it has received?
“Hi, thanks for the welcome!! Very happy with the reaction surrounding ‘Amoeba’ – fantastic responses from the crowds and fellow musicians alike, and it works so well live, which is exactly what I set out to achieve.”
How long did the album take to create and what is your favourite on this most excellent long player?
“It took about 6 months in total, from original concept to the final mastering phase, it was a very smooth flowing process, I always try to create tracks that will take people through a range of emotions, capture a moment. Favourite track? Hmmmmm, tricky one that, depending on mood I guess, my stand out track is probably ‘Nine’, which has been used for the post-Bestival promo video on YouTube. I just love the energy and dynamics, you can shut your eyes and imagine it being the soundtrack to a really deep piece of cinema.”
You are the darlings of the press at the moment, I checked one review of the album where you were described as the ‘Chemical Brothers and Leftfield’s lovechild’. What were your thoughts on that quote – these must have been influential for you as you were getting into dance music?
“Oh yeah, massively influential, the first time I heard The Chemical Brothers, it totally blew my mind. What I really love about this kind of stuff that I, and so many good electronica artists do, is the freedom of it all. You can do so much, create so many different sounds and although it slots into electronica, you can squeeze in so many genres – and most importantly, capture peoples imaginations and make people dance. I love that quote, it’s a really great way of describing what I do, and it’s a compliment too.”
I recall seeing you interviewed once and when asked what musical style heath:ward were, you described it as verging on “cinematica”. Talk us through that aspect of the band’s sound…
“Exactly as I described ‘Nine’. I like creating music where when you listen to it, you can drift off in your own world, your own little movie and create your own vision. Most of the sounds are put together to create dramatic effect and really lift people’s emotions, so you can listen to the album on headphones or live and get that same feeling and create your own little cinematic world.”
Tell us about the live show in 2012…
“Big, loud, exciting, a rollercoaster from start to finish. Consisting of all live electronica and some live vocals. I currently work live with Sam Welstead-Wood, Dobi Kwe and Lucy Kitchen, all really good vocalists from completely different musical backgrounds and genres. The show is really about making people dance and bringing everyone together – and people leaving the show at the end wanting more.”
What is the current top 10 you are spinning?
Orbital – Wonky
Koop – Relaxin in Club Fusion
Squarepusher – Dark Steering
The Chemical Brothers – Another World
Moonbootica – Jump Around
Moguai – Lyve
Leftfield – Afro Left
Syntax – Pray
Death in Vegas – All That Glitters
Air – La Femme D’Argent
“This changes daily though, I never stop listening and absorbing old and new sounds, it’s like a drug!”
You appeared in the sunshine at this year’s incredible Bestival Festival – what are your big memories from that amazing gig?
“Loads of things. How amazingly organised it was both from an artists point of view and inside the festival – it’s so well run. Getting ready backstage and looking out seeing the huge crowd out there, then going on stage and getting a really warm welcome, it was banging from start to finish and totally what I am about. I couldn’t have wished for a better live experience, an amazing crowd!! I got to see so much stuff I really love too, Death in Vegas, Orbital, Beardyman, Lianne La Havas was amazing too, just such a special weekend – and the sun was shining…all weekend!!!”
Who are the big producers from around the world that you are giving high fives to at the moment?
“Probably too many to mention, but the stand out people for me at the moment are Moguai, The Chemical Brothers, Aphex Twin…I guess I like what I like and have huge respect for what I like and the people create it.”
Tell us about your studio set up, what’s in your vault?
“A whole range of stuff. I have a portable studio/live setup consisting of MacBook Pro running, Ableton Live, running into Focusrite Saffire Pro 40, Focusrite Trakmaster, DBX Compressors, Logic, Omnisphere, Sylenth, Korg Suite, ABL, Trilogy (the plugins are endless!!). I use a Roland A300 Pro Midi Controller, 2 x Novation Launchpads, an iPad 2 in an Alesis iDock, using loads of synth apps including Animoog (which is amazing) Sunrizer, Korg iMS-20, TouchAble, again the list goes on. This is all used as a live and studio setup. In the studio I use KRK VXT-8’s and ESI Active 08’s, KRK 10s Subs for low end.”
What was the record that changed your life?
Too many!! Can I be greedy and have 2? Two very memorable ones were Death in Vegas, Dead Elvis and The Chemical Brothers, Dig Your Own Hole, heard both albums around the same time, totally changed my thinking of music, my mind had been expanded.
You live in Southampton on the south coast of the UK – a town renowned for it’s clubbing in the 90s at places like Meage A Trois. Where were the early clubs that you earnt your disco stripes at and who were the DJs you were jumping around to?
“I spent some time in Ibiza in the 90’s so remember seeing the classics like Danny Rampling, Brandon Block, Alex P etc. but at that time I was very much into stuff like Portishead, Tricky, Massive Attack too. I absorb music like a sponge, I think it shows in the music I do now too.”
What has been your summer anthem?
“Orbital – ‘Wonky’.”
What is coming next from you studio wise?
“I’m currently working on the next album now, so after a gig I have in London on the 18th October at the Electricity Showrooms, I’ll be taking a short break from live shows to focus on new material. I’ve got loads of good stuff in the pipeline, as well as some remixes for a London label and some single releases.”
You have appeared on stage with some mighty live acts over the last couple of years – who have stood out for you?
“Dreadzone definitely – amazingly good live. Also people like Dub Pistols, Orbital and Death in Vegas.”
Away from dance music, who are the artists you listen to at home or on the move at the moment?
“Royksopp, Air, Boards of Canada, Portishead, Rodrigo y Gabriella, Lianne La Havas, The Beatles (White Album), Nitin Sawhney…”
And finally, what is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
“Ooooooh thats a tricky one, been given loads. I think the best bit is, believe in what you do – if it feels right go with it. Everyone’s a critic, but it doesn’t mean they are right.”