The soulful D&B specialists feature on the new EP from stadium heroes Pendulum, and share the bill with them at London's Drumsheds in August. Time for a chat…
Last Friday (17 June) saw the release of an EP featuring a collaboration between two big names from the world of drum & bass. Not that there's anything remotely unusual about that, of course.
What was a bit more striking about this release in particular, though, was that the EP in question came from globe-conquering D&B titans Pendulum, known for their distinct blend of hard-edged drum & bass and rock/metal influences, while their collaborators (on the track Louder Than Words) were Hybrid Minds, who first emerged on Netherlands-based liquid stable Celsius/Fokuz nearly a decade ago, have released two of their three albums via BCee's Spearhead Records and generally operate on the more soulful/melodic/jazzy side of things.
Okay, it's not quite Steve Aoki vs Larry Heard, or even Borgore X Youngsta. But it certainly represents a meeting of minds – hybrid or otherwise – from different parts of the D&B spectrum. What's more, Josh White and Matt Lowe (Hybrid Minds) are also set to join the Aussie megastars and DJ Fresh for a live extravaganza at London's Drumsheds on 13 August, after which they'll be headlining a big show of their own at Brixton Academy on 16 October, with a string of other festival and Academy dates in-between.
All of which seemed as good a reason as any to grab 'em for a quick chat. So we did.
You're not newcomers to the scene by a long chalk, but as you haven't featured in iDJ before, can you introduce yourselves to non-junglists who may need bringing up to speed?
“Yo, we are Hybrid Minds. I suppose we are best known for our melodic approach to drum & bass.”
I've never been 100% certain regarding the relationship with Jeff Crake/Grimm – some sources list him as a member of Hybrid Minds, others don't, and he's in some pictures but not others. Could you clarify?
“When we started off we worked with Grimm a lot, and we still love working with him, but he acts more as a featured vocalist. I suppose we made so many tracks with him at first that he just got assumed as being the voice of Hybrid Minds at the time, which he pretty much was before we started working with other vocalists.”
We're talking today because of your collaboration with Pendulum on their new EP, so can tell us a bit about how that came about?
“Our management team were also managing them at the time and we kept joking to them, 'Get us a collab with Pendulum', but not really thinking anything of it. Then one day they hit us up and said they were up for it and we were pretty shocked – they were basically gods to us, so it was mad that it actually ended up happening. We had a folder of ideas we'd started and the guys were feeling one of them in particular, so we started developing it with them.”
D&B's quite a small world, so I'm guessing your paths would have crossed a few times anyway?
“Not really… we'd met their DJ Paul a few times on the road, but never actually met Rob and Gareth before this. The first time we met them was when we went into their studio in London to start working on the track together.”
So this was an actual real-world, all in the studio at once collaboration, not all done remotely?
“It started that way, yeah. We instantly got on really well and it was great to see how they work in the studio and to get into the process. We did two pretty long days at their studio while Rob worked on a bunch of technicals and got the vocal idea down. After that we left it with them for a while and they added the guitars and a load of the more Pendulum-sounding elements to the track. Then, if I remember correctly, it got sent back and forth a couple times remotely till it ended up how it is now.
“We do tend to work remotely when doing collaborations – we're just comfortable with that process because it's how we work anyway. It is way more fun and vibe-y to get together, though, so it was a pretty exciting process for this one.”
Some might see it as an unlikely pairing. After all, you're known for soulful, liquid-y sounds and Pendulum... aren't, so much! Was this a deliberate attempt to 'unite the tribes' in an increasingly fractured D&B scene? Or do you perhaps not see the situation like that at all?
“We just wanted to work with Pendulum because it was an amazing thing to tick off our list. Since speaking to the guys, I think the fact we are so different is why they were keen to do it from a creative point of view. It’s so much more fun and interesting when you work with people who have a different sound to your own. If you just work with similar producers then it’s kind of pointless and no way near as exciting.
“Throwing people off and doing collaborations with producers people don’t expect just feels a bit more original and fun. We weren't trying to unite any tribes or anything, it was just an interesting thing to do creatively to see how our sounds would work together.”
You're also playing with Pendulum and DJ Fresh at Drumsheds in August ** – what can you tell us about that?
“We are so hyped for that one, the venue is just insane. It has so much excitement around it within the culture and has hosted some massive raves. It’s going to be one of the highlights of the year for sure, hopefully the weather is great and it will be a perfect day. We just can’t wait to get back to gigs and it’s going to feel like a real celebration. Really looking forward to catching the Pendulum Trinity show for the first time as well.”
And you also have a big show coming up at Brixton Academy, so same question for that one...
“The week the UK went into lockdown, we'd been set to play our biggest ever headline show in London at Printworks. It sold out really quick and we were ready for it to be the highlight of our careers so far, so when it got cancelled it was pretty tough.
“As time went on we decided it would be a good idea to jump over to Brixton Academy to allow more people to join us and make it a super-special moment at a legendary venue once lockdown eases. That show is going to mark a very special moment for us, it’s going to feel like the biggest thing the pandemic has delayed for us.
“Rescheduling all these events has felt like holding your breath for a year and a half. When it finally happens, it's going to feel like we can breathe again and really appreciate what we have achieved. It’s going to be emotional, that's for sure.”
It's been a few years now since we had a full-length from you... any plans in that department?
“We aren’t really sure about our release plans at the moment, beyond the next releases we already have planned. We have a whole bunch of tracks in the works so we're just enjoying working on everything and not trying to let release plans or schedules put too much pressure on us to make certain styles.
"Once we have a bunch of that almost finished and it's all in front of us, we'll figure out the best way to release it. One thing we are sure of is that we are going to be releasing a lot music over the next year or so.”
I know a lot of producers have a lot of unreleased tracks sitting around right now as a result of the lockdowns...
“Yep, you can add us to that list. We don’t have an insane amount finished but we do have a bunch of bits and bobs starting to take shape.”
You're coming up to 10 years in the game... in all that time, what was the best decision you ever made?
“I would say it would be starting our own label, Hybrid Music. We've managed to keep control of our output and direction, which isn’t something everyone has the option to do when they are with a different record label. Having the sole focus of your own label on your own music is just so great and leaves you to do whatever you enjoy. You don’t have to wait for gaps in schedules and can just do what you like, when you like.”
And the worst mistake?
“Ejecting the wrong CD out of the CDJs used to be a good one! Big up USBs.”
Looking forward now, I'm told you have a Hybrid Minds EP coming up but that's all I know – can you fill us in?
“Oh yes. It’s been a long time coming but we wanted to get it right. We have released the first single from the EP, Bad To Me feat Grace Grundy, already. Then we have another three tracks to drop, which will all be out in time for our headline show at Brixton Academy in October.”
Finally, what else is going on for you right now that iDJ readers need to know about?
“The main thing outside of the EP has got to be the fact we're waiting for the green light to start the busiest summer of our lives in terms of festivals. As soon as it's time to start doing shows, it's going to be NUTS!”
Words: Russell Deeks
Louder Than Words is out now on Pendulum's Elemental EP (Earstorm Records). Bad To Me is out now on Hybrid Music.
**UPDATE 30 JUNE: Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Pendulum, Hybrid Minds and DJ Fresh show at Drumsheds has now been rescheduled for 24 September.