The name High Contrast needs no introduction anymore; though when a young Lincoln Barrett signed on the dotted line back in 2000 he was a complete unknown. Signed on the strength of his mini-disc demos, the Welsh wonder has smashed his way through the drum & bass scene in no time at all. His debut longplayer True Colours was released on Hospital to massive critical acclaim in June 2002, paving the way for a move onto the international DJ circuit and helping him become remixer of choice for so many labels inside and outside of the drum+bass community. It was the club sessions and mixing skills that dominated the year since True Colours – with Lincoln making a name for himself as one of the hottest D&B DJs around. With High Contrast sitting firmly at dance music’s top table, in 2009 he became one of a very rare number indeed, a current recording artist to have released a “best of” album – in the form of ‘High Contrast Confidential’. ‘The First Note Is Silent will be the first single from High Contrast’s new album due out February 2012. Dan Prince gets the exclusive…
Welcome back Lincoln to the DMC world. An incredible decade under your belt and undoubtedly much, much more to come. A new album out in February and one very excited Annie Mac premiering ‘The First Night Is Silent’ which is the first track from your next album two weeks ago – Radio 1 love you and rightly so. Your second Essential Mix was voted Essential Of The Year by Mr Tong – what was the reaction like from everybody after last week’s airing?
“Hi Dan. The track has had a lot of positive feedback from people. I knew that ‘The First Night Is Silent’ was going to be very much a ‘device track’. Tiesto is so far out from the Drum & Bass world that I knew a lot of people were also going to be shocked by the collaboration. It amuses me to be honest, all that surely matters is the music, who cares what names are involved, if the track works – it works. And to be fair, I kinda like provoking people, I hate musical snobbery. If you don’t like it then fine. If you don’t like it for political reasons then I think that’s wack. I love the track.”
How did the collaboration with Tiesto and Underworld on the track happen in the first place? Are you a fan of their work?
“It all happened quite naturally to be honest. I collaborated on a couple of tunes on the last Underworld album and so they are returning the favour. I also did a remix of Tiesto’s ‘Kaleidoscope’ from his last album and loved the original track so thought we should try a collaboration.
Did you get to hook up in the real world to work on the track or was it all created from the four corners of the globe?
“Exactly that.We just fired ideas back and forth the same way a lot of collabs work these days, I hadn’t even met Tiesto until after the record was complete until being introduced at the Electric Zoo Festival in New York. The Underworld boys I’ve known for a while.”
You were up at ‘Chibuku’ on Saturday in Liverpool, Yousef was bottled at his own Circus night last week whilst DJing, what was the Liverpool crowd like for you?
“It was very good, rowdy but well meaning. There were a mosh pits that had to be broken up but ‘Chibuku’ as always was great.”
What can you tell us about the new album. The world is waiting with bated breath…?
“It’s out in February but it’s still not finished yet, I’m finding that as I get older the longer it takes to do things! I’m known for sampling in a lot of my tunes but for this album there aren’t any which is going to surprise a lot of people, it has a different sonic palette to my previous albums. There a lot more vocal tracks and I wrote the lyrics on a quite a few so it’s much more of a personal, more emotional piece of work.”
Was this album harder to make than the other, how long did it take to create – so far?
“It’s hard to say really. I made my three previous albums and then my greatest hits and then decided just to take a step back from things for a while and did some film work and concentrated on the DJing. During that time I was always dabbling in the studio and some of those ideas have turned into tracks on this album. The majority have been made over the last year.”
You have dropped some killer remixes on a diverse range of artists, will High Contrast work with any style of track and is there a limit to how pop you will go?
“To me, the divisions between popular music and underground music are kind of interesting. I love a lot of pop music and I love a lot of underground stuff, it’s whether it grabs my attention of not. I could be driving along in my car and hear a track on the radio and like it and decide to do a bootleg remix of the track, it could be Kanye West or someone in a bedroom studio down the road. It’s all about the music and whether I’m into it, not how pop it is.”
With Daft Punk on the ‘Tron’ soundtrack, what classic movie would you like to go back and re-score the soundtrack for?
“That’s difficult because a lot of the classic films are classics in my mind because the soundtrack are classics. I know it’s a cliché as most electronic artists would name this film, but it would be interesting to remix and re-master the Blade Runner soundtrack. I actually prefer the soundtrack to the film to be honest.”
You learnt a lot about the music industry with your time at Catapult Records – without doubt one of the finest record stores the UK has ever seen, hats off to Lucy and Aaron – heck they have even been presented an award by Prince Charles. How important has Catapult in Cardiff been for your career?
“Working in a record shop was very good for my development really. I was quite introvert before working there and suddenly I was thrown onto the front line. Also, working with so many musically knowledgeable people was so educational. Back then I didn’t know anything about house music, only Drum & Bass. I became so exposed to so many genres of music and I was able to develop my own style of drum & bass nicking ideas from house, garage and disco.”
When did you decide that music was the career path for you?
“I had no interest at all in music until I was 17. Before then it was all about films and film making. Then one day whilst at college I heard J Magik’s ‘Arabian Nights’, everything changed overnight and I suddenly found myself immersing myself in Drum & Bass. I hadn’t even heard of Hip Hop at that stage!”
A self confessed control freak who likes to know what is going on at all times, you don’t drink or take drugs which is cool. How do you let off steam?
“Ha ha. I’m still looking for things to say no to! Well I don’t really relax. I feel like I am a very creative person and I am never truly satisfied with anything I do . It’s like I’m always haunted with that something inside my head that I want to get out to the outside world.”
What are the big 10 tunes you are spinning right now?
1. The First Note Is Silent – High Contrast – Hospital 2. I See you – Metrik – Viper 3. Change Me – Camo & Krooked – Hospital 4. New Style – TC – Dont Play 5. Neva Soft (Nu:Tone Rmx) – Miss Dynamite – ? 6. All or Nothing – Blu Mar Ten – BMT 7. From 93 With Love – Danbwoy – Santorin 8. Gangsters – Illskillz & 4ward – ? 9. Protection – Culture Shock – Ram 10. Virgo – Marcus Intalex – Dispatch
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
“Try and stand out from the crowd. If you are going it make it in this industry you have to have your own sound. Some people can make it quite far by copycatting the current trends but the success will only last for so long as new sounds will come along and swallow you up. The best way is to create your own genre, be individual.”
“I can relate to the next question because I also collect books and have hundreds on my shelves still untouched like yourself. What is your most treasured literary piece of work?
“Well my favourite book of all time is ‘Alice In Wonderland’. As for my favourite writer, it would be the Slovenian philosopher Slavos Zikek. He is the probably the greatest living mind.”
What has been the best festival you’ve played at this year, did you enjoy ‘Coachella’?
“I’ve always wanted to play ‘Coachella’ so it was finally great to get there and play. Beautiful surroundings, great vibe – the perfect festival really. However, ‘Electric Daisy Carnival’ in Las Vegas in June was the best production I have ever seen and my favourite of 2011.”
You have remixed some fabulous artists – you once confessed that you thought, at that time, that your remix of Adele’s ‘Hometown Glory’ was your most satisfying re-work – what would your answer be today?
“Another difficult question. The Adele remix still gets people singing along and people love it. But I find it quite hard to talk about my own work, once I’ve made it I move on and don’t give it a second thought. My mind is already thinking about the next project.”
You were resident at the excellent Silent Running night in Cardiff back in the day that featured some star studded guests. Who amazed you back then and what did you learn (if anything) from these guys?
“Fabio playing was definitely a moment, the way that he structured a set was very influential and the way he didn’t just play the bangers. And of course when London Electricity came down was definitely a pivotal moment for me as it was the night I gave them a demo of mine and things very quickly began to move!
Your love of Japan is well documented? What do you love about it, have you ever thought of moving there?
“I’ve been there six times and I just love everything about it. The culture, the food, the cinema, the people. And I have thought about moving there but I kinda realise that after a few months of being there, I’d realise how difficult it would be for an outsider to integrate into the Japanese society.”
Who are your musical heroes?
“Bach is my favourite from the world of classical music, from modern times people like David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and also lots of 50s Rock & Roll – I think Chuck Berry is the greatest lyricist of all time.”
DMC are the proud owners of the Back To Mine series – if we came back to yours after a club, what 10 Back To Mine tunes would you spin us from your collection?
1. All Your Love – Hudson Mohawke 2. Baby Its You – Smith 3. Theme from Carrie – Pino Donaggio 4. Soul Glo – CRST 5. Nocturne 20 in C sharp minor – Chopin 6. Jessies Girl – Rick Springfield 7. Ultra Thizz – Rustie 8. Quand on n’a que l’amour – Jaques Brel 9. I Am Europe – Chilly Gonzales 10.Scissor – Liars
What one piece of vinyl would you never sell?
“The first Drum & Bass record I bought, the DJ Zinc bootleg of ‘Ready Or Not’.
And finally Lincoln, there’s no escaping the final question. Tell us what your dad’s quite simply brilliant claim to fame is…
“He was Shakin’ Stevens manager and gave him the whole Shaky persona. I grew up surrounded by 50s rock & roll, hence the love of Chuck Berry.”
November dates with High Contrast…
04/11/11 Hospitality, Antwerp, Belgium 05/11/11 Hospitality at The Great Hall, Cardiff, UK
11/11/11 Smack, Leamington Spa, UK 25/11/11 Stealth, Nottingham, UK