Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy
0

Music Interview

Karl Hyde interview: 'Chilled-out moments between the banging tunes'

By
Karl Hyde album Edgeland
Karl Hyde of Underworld

© Rex Features



For the last 35 years or so, Karl Hyde has been half (then a third, then back to a half) of one the greatest ever British dance acts.

He's promised Digital Spy that he and Rick Smith are still happy to make records as Underworld, but before then there's the matter of his solo debut Edgeland, released later this month.

To celebrate, we caught up with Karl to chat about the influence of friend Brian Eno, working with Danny Boyle on the Olympics, and what surprises are in store when he gets out on the road.

You've been making music for over three decades - why now for a solo album?
"A lot of things came together. A lot of moments prompted me really. We'd done a couple of big events working for other people - Frankenstein, the Olympics - and I'd been doing some work with other people. I'd been working with Brian Eno, and my collaborations with him pushed me in the direction of a kind of music that Underworld always did between the big banging tunes, but weren't finding the opportunity to pursue both live and on record.

"Also going back to the days of working with Anthony Minghella on his film [Breaking & Entering] - he was attracted to an aspect of Underworld which wasn't those banging tunes, and that played on my mind a lot. And those things came together the year before last, end of 2010. After working with Brian I started to collaborate with one of the guys in that team - Leo Abrahams - managed to see where it would go."

How much of a direct influence was Eno?
"Brian's been an influence ever since I was a kid. When I first heard Roxy Music I thought 'That's it, this is fantastic...' Brian and I have been friends for a very long time. We've been writing and recording together for a long time.

"During my time as the singer of the Pure Scenius project when we were down at the Sydney Opera House - it was a fantastic improvisational ensemble - I was stood on stage thinking, 'This is exactly what I want Underworld to do'. And given we were doing the things that we were doing, in the meantime - Rick and I were quite happy that I experimented with that idea."

Do you think the organic, ambient sound will surprise people?
"To me it always referred to those chilled moments between the banging tunes. It was the music I was listening to in the bus after a huge area party. It was the comedown music. It goes right the way back to Café del Mar in Ibiza.



"Those chilled out, sunrise moments of, 'Wow. We've just had a really long session of heavy tunes - I need to find another sonic space'. For me its roots are in that music we made, always put out on records but didn't have the opportunity to play out - and our film music."

Is that how you think people will listen to it - get back from Fabric and pop on Edgeland when they get in?
"I hope so, yeah I do. Because dance music is a core part of what I love. I get in my bunk and put on John Martyn, or Joni Mitchell, or I put on a film score or some choral music, because I needed something that would balance out this fantastic adrenaline rush that I'd been embedded in for hours."

Just to clarify - you and Rick still are Underworld and you're still a going concern?
"Yeah, oh god, yeah!"

So there are still plans for future albums?
"Yeah, definitely, definitely. We've had 34 years now we've worked together and one of the things I learned at the end of the '80s - I started to do session work as a guitar player - and the upsides of doing that is that you get to experiment with other people in other people's music.

"You bring back fresh ideas from outside of the team and you start to become really clear about what's good about that relationship that you've been working in for so long. I don't ever want familiarity to breed contempt. I don't ever want us to become imprisoned by what's good about our relationship - so it's important to do these other things."



That's what I liked about Barking - you guys working with all those different producers...
"Yeah, it was really nice. It's great for Rick that he can get to work with other singers and other producers and not have to feel that I'm the only person he will ever work with for the rest of his life. That's a proper prison sentence!"

What exactly was yours and Rick's role as musical directors in the London 2012 Opening Ceremony?
"It was largely Rick's role. We were both engaged as musical directors, as we had been on Frankenstein. Rick felt very passionate about it. He had a very clear, very strong vision about how he wanted things to go. So about six months in we agreed that I would contribute as a composer, and that he'd bounce ideas off me.

"We'd continue to collaborate in that sense musically but he would get 100% in the middle of everything that was to do with music. That felt right to me. I could see in his eyes that it was something that he really needed to do."

How did it feel to be part of something that so seemed to define Britishness in 2012?
"I've always loved working with Danny - he's an extraordinary director, and I mean that in the proper sense of the word. There are sadly very few directors who love and nurture music the way he does and also love and nurture all the creative arts that go on around him. His team, they're fantastic and they're happy because they're not only working with a talented guy, but somebody who cares. To be part of anything that Danny does is a joy.

"What made me smile was just seeing my cynical mates changing their opinion! It was great. That just kicked off what I thought was a wonderful summer. The volunteers - they were amazing. They carried this positivity out into the streets.

"Miles up the railway lines, we were bumping into these people in their pink bibs who had just got a positive solution to everything. I just thought, 'Yeah see, the stories about my country were true from bygone days'. There really is a spirit there of sincere positivity and I know that the Opening Ceremony established that."

Is it true that Rick's doing the soundtrack for Danny's Trance without your involvement?
"Yeah, it's great. It's fantastic. I'm so happy for him. I'm really, really happy for him. I was 100% involved with this project. I couldn't give any more to anything else and it would have really put this on the back burner to do anything else, and Rick hadn't got anther personal project that he was working on. So again, it was completely the right thing to do."



But you'd still be up for working with Danny again in the future?
"Absolutely! I love working on film scores. I love working to picture. There was Breaking & Entering, but then Sunshine was a huge turning point for me - my connection with film and scoring to picture and then working on Frankenstein. I loved the pressure. I loved the writing to order and using my knowledge of instruments to underscore the director's vision."

Will you play Edgeland-type versions of Underworld songs on tour or just stick to the album?
"Well, that's a good question, really, isn't it! I think it would be wholly wrong to just play the album. I don't think that would be right at all. It's just a fantastic opportunity to look at material that hasn't traditionally got an airing and maybe some that has, but to look at it through different eyes. To see if there's a way of going back to that Sydney Opera House stage and seeing Underworld through a different set of ears."

Are you booked for any UK festivals yet?
"That's all ongoing at the moment... I'm so excited, I'm really excited because Underworld rolls out with trucks and aeroplanes and a great entourage into arenas and it's inspiring to bring everything back - rescale everything and build everything again. I'm enjoying that challenge."



Dance music has really kicked off in America the last few years - they call it 'EDM' and all that - how do you feel about it all?
"It's fantastic. I'm thrilled that they've eventually got it! It's been happening for a really long time in the rest of the world, and I think it surprised us that it took so long to take root in America. The music is... I like it, it's really exciting, it's instant.

"It's got a rock quality to it, in its aggression. Which I have a bit of a soft spot for really. I've got mates that make EDM and they come and they play their stuff, and I'm like. 'Yeah, it's fantastic! Turn it up!' I'm thrilled that it's finally happening in the States."

Karl Hyde's solo album Edgeland is released on April 22.

You May Like

Comments

Loading...