Friday, 19 February 2010

INTERVIEW: HxdB [Mindset/Formant]

Channelling that productive pocket of the underground where labels like Echodub and Formant Recordings seem to deservedly flourish, Canadian producer HxdB, has to date released only one physical 12", 'Prism,' on the Manchester based label Mindset. But on the strength of it - particularly the rolling sophistication of the single's Bside 'Showdown At The Cinema' - and of those few listens to his digital releases on the afore mentioned Echodub and Dubkraft labels, along with his Electronic Explorations mix, we asked him to craft something for us to better introduce his music to the globe.

In between flights to Thailand, he shot us a link to his mix instalment, humbly questioning if we were still up for having him. Luckily he had us sold at the F - 'Phase One' > DJ Madd - 'I Know It's You' transition...

Sonic Router: Can you provide those who may not know you with a bit of background info?

HxdB: I'm 32 years old from Vancouver, Canada. I love pie.

Outside of music who are you? What do you do on the daily?

I'm a pretty chill fella, I like to spend time with my fiancée and go out with friends whenever I can. Pretty much all the rest of my spare time is spent in the studio. My career is based around IT and I am a network administrator by trade and am Cisco CCNA certified, basically a nerd.

Whats the reasoning behind the Hexadecibel/HxdB moniker?

Hexadecibel is a play on words. This ties into my nerdiness... Hexadecimal is a positional numeral system with a radix (told you it was nerdy), and of course decibel is a measurement of sound, so I figured it sounded clever. HxdB is just to keep it simple for people.

How did you first get into making music? What was it that infected you to do produce?

Well, many, many moons ago (nearly a decade now) I was thoroughly entrenched in electronic music in it's many forms and had always been fascinated with computers, it was just a natural step for me to try my shot at production. I started producing with my best friend under the alias MIDIevil, we progressed quickly using a "borrowed" version of Fruity Loops and managed to knock out a dozen or so half-decent tunes. We both had many things change in our lives and the music fell by the wayside for quite some time. What REALLY inspired me to get back into it were 2 separate events. The first, was the very first time I heard dubstep, it was at a gig listening to my now friends Ben and Josh Searles (Daega Sound), which completely blew me away. The second was my epiphany moment, listening to Skream play at Shambhala music festival here in BC on a 90k watt system. The rest as they say is history, I just HAD to give it another stab.

What’s your production set up like?

Well, it's changed quite a bit over the years, having gone through an old EMU E4X sampler, Korg Triton, Oberheim Xpander, various external effects, and several mixers. Currently I'm running a rather crippled setup after my last mixer (Korg Zero 8) died on me. FL Studio is my main DAW, but I've been using Ableton Live more and more recently. I run an Echo Gina24 soundcard, Novation MIDI controller, Korg KP3 & KRK Rokit 8s speakers and a KRK 10" sub, along with a cornucopia of effects and VST synths. Recently though I've fallen head over heels in love with the VST synth, Sylenth1 and nearly all of my analogue sounds come from it.

Where do you take inspiration from while making music?

I get inspired from everything around me... sights I see, friends, experiences both good and bad. I live in such an amazing city it's hard not to be inspired all the time. Also, I hear so much incredible music from my producer friends, I'm constantly trying to improve and try new things with my sound.

How would you describe your sound?

Hehe, I was afraid you'd ask this question because I hate to describe it without sounding like a dork. I guess you could say that my sound is deep and soulful, I draw a lot of inspiration from jazz and blues sounds and the melodies and harmonies they use. I like to always try and give my songs a dance-floor edge while keeping the emotional content high. My dubstep is tinged with sprinklings of garage, 2-step, techno, house and drum n bass.

What’s the scene like in Vancouver?

2 words... A, MAZING. There are a number of great promoters in the city that have done a great job of building a fun and safe scene, with a seemingly endless supply of top-shelf shows. Everyone gets along and co-operates, it's a marvel really. Not to mention all of the other awesome producers, DJs and supporters here. I think it's like a "perfect-storm" of talent and timing. Unfortunately, I don't think many of Vancouver’s talented producers have been given the international acclaim I believe they deserve, so I'm going to flagrantly promote them right now! Max Ulis, DJ Cure, Taal Mala, Self Evident, Phowa, Calamalka, M. Red, Ill-Esha, Longwalkshortdock, Clix, Glitchy & Scratchy and a whole host of others are all doing very large things at this moment and I expect the world to see MUCH more from Vancouver in 2010.

I see you run the Pressing Issues label with DJ Cure; how did that come about and what sounds does the imprint represent?

Well, Pressing Issues started off as somewhat of an experiment in label management with a focus on community involvement. The label started on and was unique in that forum community members could vote on the music that would eventually be released on vinyl. The label did 2 successful vinyl releases but unfortunately, was put to the wayside due to PI committee members' increasingly busy lives. The label was given to Cure so that he could take the reigns and keep it moving along. This is where I came in, when he asked me to take part. Since then, we've put together an impressive list of demos from some of our favourite producers and are currently inches from posting the poll for 003. We've streamlined our process and plan to keep things rolling well into the future. Expect a tune from XI entitled 'Gravity' on 003, and for 004 we have a BIG surprise up our sleeves in the form of a tune from one of the top luminaries (in my ever-so-humble opinion) in the sound. The sound we're focusing on is big, deep, dance-floor, bass music.

What have you got coming up this year?

I've got 12"s upcoming on Formant Recordings, Surface Tension, 2 on Rob Sparx's Migration, hopefully another release on Mindset, perhaps also one on Syte and O-Dessa's Open Earz, and also hopefully 1 more on DubKraft. Digitally you can expect to see releases on Betamorph, Gamma Audio, Echodub & Kursed. As far as gigs go, the only thing major is a show at Burning Man, everything else is tentative, so I can't really comment.

Tell us about the mix you’ve done for us, what tracks just had to be included?

I wanted to do a mix that fully encapsulates what you could expect from a hxdb show, progressive mixing and a mix that tells a story...Something that starts in 1 place and ends somewhere else entirely different. I wanted to have some of my own material in there alongside some of what I feel is the finest of the unsung producers, alongside some of the top producers in the game. XI - 'Gravity' for obvious reasons was just a must, NumberNin6's tune is amazing and Distal - 'Attempt at Yellow' is just a killer.

Have you got any words of wisdom for our readers?

Be open minded with music!!!! Compartmentalizing music is harmful to creativity… Oh and, don't eat yellow snow.


DOWNLOAD: HxdB – Sonic Router Mix


FBOM - Erat (HxdB RMX) {Migration]
Zed Bias - Cauldron [Sidestepper]
VVV - Flyaway (HxdB RMX) [dub]
F - Phase One [7even]
DJ Madd - I Know It's You [BOKA]
Daega Sound - Forest Floor [dub]
XI - Gravity [Pressing Issues]
Mayhem - Damn [Argon]
Distal - Attempt at Yellow [dub]
Shortstuff - Stuff [Ramp]
Zeno - Clish [dub]
Freeland - Do you (Joker RMX) [Marine Parade]
Noah D - Seeeriousss [Subway]
Numbernin6 - Fours [dub]
Autopilot - Household Symphony [dub]


Photo: John Revolver

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