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Old 08-04-2019, 06:17 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 3,757
Interview with Karl Hyde from 2007 in OOR (Dutch music magzine)
Underworld and the recovered muse
Translation courtesy of Google


Looking back at my journalistic work from the past, say, twenty years. Sounds like a nice conclusion to my transition from pop journalist to curator on this blog (I wrote about that before and it should come to pass). In recent years I have spoken to Karl Hyde of Underworld a number of times. Also for OOR. Best conversation, I remember, was at Hotel Arena in Amsterdam in, I think, 2007. About Oblivion With Bells , krautrock, love for Germany and the possibilities and pitfalls of the internet.
Not only does Underworld return to its own roots at Oblivion With Bells . On the seventh studio album, the duo also follows the current trends on the dance floor. This was preceded by a difficult and uncertain process. Karl Hyde explains: 'It is actually very simple: constantly reinventing yourself or becoming extinct. There is no middle way. "

Karl Hyde searches his things like a madman. Looking for his iPod. "I always have it with me," he mumbles, delving deeper into his bag. "Well, I believe you do," I try. Hyde is not listening. He must and will show that his mp3 player is full of kraut rock from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Can, Faust, Amon DuŁl, Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Temple. The names roll like honey over Brit's tongue. He finally ends his search. "I used to listen to that music when I was a little boy. I really didn't understand it, "he continues. "Later I listened to the John Peel Show. He taught me that you do not have to be restricted by boxes between music genres. He really did everything. You thought it was crazy or you hated it. " Laughingly: "I hated Faust!" The funny thing about John Peel was that he always turned out to be right, Hyde smiles. At the end of the 1980s, the penny dropped for the first time. The Berlin duo ¬me recently pulled him over again. 'A year ago I got a mix from them in which they mixed all the bands that were so incredibly non-fashionable in my youth. Faust, Neu !, Can. It sounded so fresh, so incredibly good! " For Hyde, ¬me symbolizes a number of crucial developments in the landscape of pop music. "The circle is, as it were, round again."

Having a conversation with Hyde is not an easy task. He is an animated storyteller, has an icy voice and chooses his words carefully. As if he is giving a lecture. He hardly does anything about raising his voice or non-verbal communication. And so you hang on to his lips. Must be a strange sight from the outside: two men, bent close together, converse in a soft tone. As if they are plotting a plot. Intimate, that's for sure. Is the collaboration between Hyde - who turned 50 this year - and Rick Smith (48), his partner-in-crime at Underworld, going like that? Hyde who tells, Smith who listens and turns the knobs? In any case, they have been holding it up for quite some time. Since the early eighties, to be precise. The two meet at the Cardiff Art Academy. As a Freur, they make a strange mix of dub and electro to Kraftwerk. Not exactly good, but interesting. This does not apply to the first musical steps of Underworld. Or, to be precise, Underworld Mk1, which is rising from the ashes of Freur. The poppy electrorock from Underneath the Radar and Change the Weather is boring and mediocre. Underworld quits and the duo starts the graphic design and art agency Tomato. With DJ Darren Emerson they breathe new life into Underworld - Mk2, so. The result, Dubnobasswithmyheadman , is without a doubt one of the best dance albums ever. Beautiful and exciting time, Hyde emphasizes with twinkling eyes: 'Something indefinable was brewing. Nobody knew what exactly was going on, but we felt that we were right in the middle of it. Parties on the beach, in derelict sheds on the outskirts of the city. We played in the first Cocoon club in Frankfurt. An immense industrial complex. There I first heard the vocal version of mmm Skycraper I Love You in the middle of a dance set by Sven Všth. It was absolutely right. "

Then it went wrong, almost unnoticed. "We have made the underground mainstream. Suddenly what we did became part of the normal culture. The sharp edges were auctioned off and raised to standard. Rules and procedures followed. Spontaneous things were suddenly forced into a straitjacket. All life was sucked out. " Underworld does not benefit from this development. Single Born Slippery will be a big hit thanks to the film Trainspotting . Fourth album Second Toughest in the Infants a commercial success. Hyde, on the other hand, is not doing well at all. He is struggling with a persistent alcohol addiction and sees his outburst on it - Born Slippery - due to the success of Trainspotting becoming the drinking song par excellence. A tough time, confesses Hyde. He also wants to say little about it. "We had become a phenomenon and wandered further and further from the roots of dance music," it sounds measured. After the surprisingly good album Beaucoup Fish , Emerson leaves the group. Again Underworld ceases to exist. Temporary, because in 2002 the moderate A Hundred Days Off will be published . Underworld Mk3, supplemented by DJ and 3D animator Darren Price, is also unconvincing on stage. Hyde instinctively pushes his chair back, straightens his back, and says, "Thank you for your honesty." Then he leans forward again and analyzes: 'We felt locked up, isolated. We were no longer fed, you understand? Music became less and less interesting. In that time, all major super clubs disappeared. The fact that we lived in England didn't make it any better. We have tried it. Dubstep, for example. We listened to it, bought it, played it time and time again. Also in our radio shows, but it didn't affect us emotionally. " Laughing: "Some of my friends who are crazy about dubstep may not like reading that."

The rescue? Came from Germany, Hyde says with red beans. 'We heard Dominik Eulberg, Ricardo Villalobos, Mathew Jonson, music on Kompakt and Cocoon and we were completely sold. The boys did something that caused the holy fire to flare up again. They did what we once did, but in a new refreshing way. Nothing really happened in England at the time. In Germany it is. Of all places! The land of music that I listened to when I was young. This is how they actually complete the circle. Dance is back where it once started. " There was no doubt that something had to change at the start of the twenty-first century. A revolution if necessary, thinks Hyde. One in which the underground got a voice again. As was the case in the mid-nineties. Only in a contemporary way. Oblivion With Bells , again the seventh studio album, is the musical blueprint of that new era. It shows a reborn Underworld. Hyde and Smith are close to the sound of Dubnobasswith myheadman . Key words? Melancholic, dubby, introverted and surprisingly languid. Other similarities: the vocals of Hyde are again dominant and the cover is designed in the collage style with which Tomato gained fame. Differences? Are there also. The euphoric character that is so typical of Underworld in the early 1990s is missing. In addition, the album is not only slow, the speed also only exceeds 120 beats per minute. That's right, Hyde agrees. Although the pace is actually higher, he explains. 'Emotionally the songs seem a lot slower. Pure euphoria is indeed missing, but it is a very positive album. For us, it reflects a period of unprecedented freedom and happiness. Not for ourselves, but for the band. We have found our muse, the underground. "

Thanks to ¬me and other German producers. But there's more. The development of the world wide web also plays a crucial role. Thanks to the internet, the music industry has lost a lot of power. 'Everyone can now release music via the internet. That gives enormous freedom, but also creates uncertainty. We were afraid of becoming irrelevant. We made comfortable music. We did not have to worry financially. That was of course important somewhere, certainly if you have to raise children and pay your mortgage. This created a field of tension. We are artistically bathed in uncertainty. It is actually very simple: you have to constantly reinvent yourself or become extinct. There is no middle way. " Thanks to the developments on the internet, Hyde and Smith had to take matters into their own hands again. After all, the music industry put the heels in the sand and tried to withstand the impending doom. 'Everything was determined in advance. The amount of artwork, how many albums had to be sold, how long a record could be. We were deprived of every freedom. Something that does not fit within the standard format was rejected. Make a record of twenty minutes? Impossible. One of four hours? Also impossible. Such processes ensure that there is no inspiration. We also did not feel comfortable with the role that had since played. We do not make pop music for the mainstream. We are outsiders, we feel comfortable with that. We prefer to be a sort of channel from underground to mainstream. After all, the pop music of allowed comes from that underground. ' And so Hyde and Smith decided to put all their money into their own record label, radio station and live performances. On the internet, that is.

(contunued in 2nd post)
UW0764 || Professor: "Underworld have never failed to disappoint me" || Yannick changed my avatar picture.
Old 08-04-2019, 06:18 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 3,757
Re: Interview with Karl Hyde from 2007 in OOR (Dutch music magzine)
Incredibly scary, Hyde emphasizes. But it gave the pair the much needed uncertainty and therefore the opportunity to be creative again. beaming: 'the internet is a blessing. It has given us the opportunity to discover new things and to let others discover new things. " The technical possibilities are endless, but, he emphasizes, it is ultimately about feeling. 'It reminds me of the nineties again. Everyone works together, everyone is connected. It feels like we are part of a network, of a larger whole. " Take the radio show, Dirty Radio. Thanks to the internet, Hyde and Smith make liveradio everywhere. At home, from hotel rooms, you name it. They mix well-known and unknown music. Music that small labels have sent to them or that they have discovered in the local record stores of the cities they visit. 'There is so much inspiring and good music. We want to show that to our listeners. Every day we place a link on our website to a band or an artistic movement. Kopna Kopna, Ellen Allien, Dada, Fluxus, you name it. ' Since 2002, Underworld has released two hands full of songs - The RiverRun Project - as an exclusive download, eventually physically available as five 12inches in a limited edition of ten thousand pieces and for sale as a digital download on Beatport. Tomato also experienced a new spring thanks to the world wide web. 'At the end of the nineties we had grown too big, a kind of myth. There were so many designers who followed us and were much cheaper. That was a good time to stop everything. Now we are together again. On the internet we have created a kind of video art studio where we work with creative people from all over the world. In this way we create books, TV shows and installations together. An unprecedented artistic freedom. "

But why release a traditional album again? "That was certain beforehand," Hyde emphasizes, "all those other things were needed to feel the freedom to be truly creative again." He does not want to downplay the activities that the duo has carried out over the past few years. Far from. In fact, Oblivion With Bells forms a whole with the digital representation of Underworld on the internet. One cannot do without the other. Take the slow pace of the new album. That is a logical consequence of the development that the duo went through. "Because of our presence on the internet, Sven Všth invited us to jam with him live via web television. His set was much slower than our new material. So we had to adjust our set to make the music run synchronously. Sounded really great. " In addition: all songs on the album have been carefully selected from the more than two hundred songs that the duo has written over the past five years. A number of them ended up as a download on the website or appeared on the soundtrack of films such as Breaking And Entering by Anthony Minghella and Sunshine by Danny Boyle. Twenty finally appeared on the shortlist of Oblivion With Bells . Up to the very last moment the choice remained uncertain. Eventually all the faster songs were dropped and Ring Road got a place on the album. "That number would certainly not come up, had we agreed in advance," Hyde chuckles, "but due to the slow pace it suddenly turned out to fit very well." Ring Road is in many ways a typical Underworld song, without sounding that way. The Indian percussion deviates too much for that. Hyde itself is in top form. In his typical, distant manner, he describes a walk through Romford, the immense satellite city north-east of London.

Romford is exemplary of England, Hyde emphasizes. He has been living there for years and has no aspirations to relocate. That makes him pretty much the only one. Romford is a city on the edge, where the inhabitants only dream of one thing: move as quickly as possible. "You live there to leave the city," says Hyde. "There are many workers who have left East London because there are immigrants who have brought new cultures. That is now also happening with Romford. The city is so average, the average England is set here. " The idea for Ring Road originated on a boring but beautiful day. Hyde shifts his chair, gets up and walks to the window. He points out: 'A day like today actually. Sunny, but not too hot. I listened to The Last Poets album and was very impressed with the lyrics. That is how I got the idea to take a circular walk through the city and write down everything that I would encounter. Back home, I made a text of it. By the way, I applied the same experiment to JAL To Tokyo that is on one of the RiverRun 12inches. I recently told Brian Eno that he should do it sometime. " One of his best lyrics, Hyde admits. finds everyone who has heard the song. In any case, text plays an important role on Oblivion With Bells . What does he write about? Roam the city, Hyde says decisively. Not literally of course. In fact, Underworld's music is always about roaming the city. "You understand that displaced, yet slightly tingling sensation of excitement?" Hyde believes that he has done very well at Oblivion With Bells .

Is mainly at the expense of partner Smith. 'He has an indefinable ability to sense exactly what is and what is not of value. Call it typical Welsch. That is really a Celtic trait, you know. " His way of working reminds Hyde in a certain way of the way Ash Ra Temple and Faust made music. Not literally of course, but also with the Germans a certain chemistry was released which enabled them to use electronic instruments in a natural way within a rock idiom. Perhaps that is why the music nowadays sounds far from dated. In addition, Hyde says enthusiastically, very interesting things are happening in Scandinavia. 'They also mix all kinds of music styles together. From krautrock to psychedelics. We recently played in New York with TrentemÝller. Great what he does. " But how is it possible that the musical feeling of the early 1970s is connected to the current dance scene again? Is it freedom in music? The naive but rock-solid belief in a better future? Hyde looks at me in surprise. 'What you say there is interesting. I'll make a note of that, if you don't mind. " He quickly notes a few catchwords in his black notebook. In the meantime, he thinks aloud. 'We have to work more with people. With James Holden for example and with TrentemÝller. That way we can come to a new idiom. " "Why not Faust?" I suggest. With twinkling eyes: "That's a great idea!"

Appeared in music newspaper OOR sometime in 2007.
UW0764 || Professor: "Underworld have never failed to disappoint me" || Yannick changed my avatar picture.
Old 08-04-2019, 10:23 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 446
Re: Interview with Karl Hyde from 2007 in OOR (Dutch music magzine)
Interesting to read such positivity in Karl's words there, given that the era is now considered part of the era they didn't feel inspired. Would love to hear some of the faster tracks from the sessions.

Would also like to hear 'Born Slippery'.
Old 08-04-2019, 04:06 PM
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 1,004
Re: Interview with Karl Hyde from 2007 in OOR (Dutch music magzine)
Thanks! Lots of interesting things to read here. What they are referring to as Dubstep in 2007 is gonna be remarkably different from what that term would refer to even 3 years later, not to mention now.

I also think that this falls right around the time things start to go sideways, so it makes sense that his words are positive here, as it's still the tail end of a good time. It's the question of where to go from this moment that gets iffy for them.
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