Five questions with our label mates, Inna Riddim leading up to our show at Sydney’s premier Drum and Bass night
Q: You guys aren’t DJs, you play live. For those who haven’t seen you perform, tell us briefly about your setup – what equipment, who plays what?
A: We’re a drums and synths duo. Completely electronic and entirely run through Ableton Live. I hit the amen’s, Rehan turns the knobs. We use a customised v-drum setup triggering a host of Ableton drum racks, layered with the on-board acoustic drum samples. Using more cables than world diplomacy, the entire kit is routed into a second host Ableton session to control live processing of the drums – filtering, pitch bending, automated changes and additional sample layering. Rehan is controlling the entire live mix, mashing the live drums and playing bass and synth lines.
Q: How does the experience of live electronica differ from a DJ set – from your perspective and/or from the audience’s? Is there a different kind of connection?
A: It’s far more physical. It puts musicianship, instrumentation and all the blood, sweat and grit that goes with live performance back in the club. While our sets are one seamless mass of non stop tunes, we’re not beat mixing the tracks together like a DJ. It’s all pre arranged. We play to the Ableton clock and with a lot of rehearsals and preparation, it all comes together. There is some compromise working this way, you’re not hearing a final mixed and mastered track through the speakers as you will from DJs playing bangers before and after us. It’s a little rawer than that. But in electronic music these days, it’s all about fidelity, the cleanest punchiest mix possible and there’s little acceptance of anything less. The average punters ears are well tuned in, so we chose to run the complicated setup that we have to keep our sound as authentic, clean and mean as possible while still using our musicianship and keeping complete control at our own fingertips.
Q: Kobra Kai fans will know you two as erstwhile core members of that (now disbanded) live electronica group. Has your music changed since the Kobra Kai days?
A: Kobra Kai was always about different styles of beat driven music. A purposely constructed conglomerate of different artists. We started this duo with the intention to produce more authentic drum and bass, to dive deeper into the drum and bass production manifesto. Unforeseen, it quickly became another live project. But this time, we took a completely different approach to our live show and we came up with the setup we’re currently running. I’m far more at home behind the drums than a computer. I can’t live without improving my playing. I sometimes feel my production is done out of necessity, it’s a means to assist my playing and open creative doors but never to replace the art of drumming. Rehan and I did also delve into some other styles. We released some of Rehan’s glitch funk monsters on Adapted Records.
Q: So should we expect a straight drum&bass set or are you going to stray into other genres?
A: It’s Afterlife. We’re playing drum and bass! Jungle, neuro, minimal, jump up. Nothing but. All original works apart from one cover version – a tip of the hat to one of the most revered instrumentalists in electronic music.
Q: Hutch, you’ve spent time recently on the road with Mr Bill in his tour of the US. Anything you’ve learned along the way or influences that may feed back into your music as a duo with Rehan?
A: I learned quite a lot from Mr. Bill before I ever met him. His website mrbillstunes.com and YouTube videos are distinguished educational resources. Bill lives in Colorado, so he has been leaving his big glitched skippy scent all over the Americans for quite a few years now. I was lucky, stoked to spend two months there with him. We’ve knocked up a solid 60+ shows in Australia, Canada and USA since 2016 and in between those tours, he has also been doing his own solo tours, keeping up with is own prolific releases, collaborations, Electrocado side project, scoring Hollywood flicks, video tutorials and website updates. I love working with artists as dedicated to their work as Bill is. I drew so much inspiration and drive from the experience which I’m sure will come through in my work with Rehan. There were a lot of people I met and artists we played with who gave me a huge boost. Eoto, another electronic duo who we played with in Denver and Boulder were insane. A different approach on electronic music to my work with Bill or Rehan, very improvised, to the point where they would construct synth patches during the performance. Executed seamlessly, flawlessly, never disruptive to the dance floor. No two shows from Eoto are the same. Killer live show…. It feels good to be working on some of my own material again while Bill wraps up some festival dates in the US and knuckles down on a new album. Playing with Bill, I was being constantly confused with his previous live drummer. Everywhere we’d go, in Australia or USA, someone would think I’m Pendulum’s drummer. Now, surely I can’t be mistaken for KJ Sawka again. Not on this gig…
Afterlife is on Saturday 2nd September at the Porugal Madeira Club in Marrickville.