By Joshua Jones & James McClements
Since their breakthrough in 2011, Hybrid Minds are long establishing themselves as rising kingpins of the Liquid D&B scene. From their debut album Mountains to its 2017 follow up Elements, Hybrid Minds have amassed a devoted fanbase and are some of the most sought after live performers of the genre. Now set to play festival spots and headline shows in 2020, as well as Y Plas on the 6th March, we had a chat with Matt and Josh about touring, their views on the Cardiff venue troubles, and what’s in store for them and D&B in the future.
Tell us about some of your favourite venues you’ve played at.
Josh: I suppose UK wise, all the usuals. Concord, things like that. But we always mention Phonox in London. It was a smaller one but really good. An intimate vibe. Last time we played Cardiff at Titan Warehouse it was really good actually. Yeah, that was a bit spectacular. That was a pretty big venue that one. I suppose like your standard big clubs like those massive warehouse shows, but then also like smaller clubs are really good fun as well like Phonox in London.
How did your latest track with Fred V, Drowning in You come about?
Matt: We’ve known Fred for a long time and we had this idea sort of just sitting there. He sent us a bunch of ideas actually and that was like one of them. It was like some keys and some singing and we said we could really do something with that. Make it work and yeah it just sort of started from that. Sort of snowballed into Drowning in You in the end. But we’ve been meaning to do a track for a long time and it’s one of those things that we always spoke about and it never came about. But yeah, we eventually got around to it.
What do you think 2020 has to hold for the D&B scene in the UK?
Josh: It’s a really good year for Drum and Bass, looking at all the festival line-ups being announced at the minute. Its like from what we can see, the festivals that we’re playing at, Drum and Bass has got its own stage at every festival or at least on the dance stages its heavily involved. So it looks like to us like it’s going to be a really strong year.
You’ve recently been announced to play this year’s Boomtown. Are you looking forward to it, and what have been some of your favourite festival moments?
Matt: Yeah, we’ve been wanting to do it for a while now. I always watch the videos every year and it just looks crazy. So I’m really looking forward to that one. In terms of festival experiences, for us, because we get to see a lot of our friends at the festivals, a lot of them are really good. So it’s hard to just pick one I suppose. Everyone gets together and it’s usually really messy.
Josh: Yeah it’s good fun. The Drum and Bass Festivals like Let It Roll and Liquicity are always really good. Because you see a bunch of your friends in the same place at the same time.
Matt: Yeah, it’s a big difference from going to Europe and doing a show on your own somewhere. And then festival season kicks in and all of a sudden your with a lot of people that you know. So I suppose it’s hard to pinpoint one specific memory but we got pretty fond memories of a lot them. Haven’t we? Maybe too many….
Are anymore future collaborations in the works?
Josh: We’re just sort of working with a bunch of different vocalists and stuff. So you’ll see when we finish and what happens. We’ve got some exciting things lined up, but I don’t think we can talk about it yet.
What advice do you guys have for aspiring DJs and Producers?
Matt: Well to aspiring DJs – be a producer, and to aspiring producers – be a DJ. Do both. Yeah, I mean producers I suppose just need to develop their own sound and not try to be and be another Shy FX.
Josh: You’ve got to put the time in. Yeah just putting the time in and if you enjoy doing something and it’s your passion. Then if you put the work in then, it seems to pay off for most people.
Matt: Yeah, I think it just means like long sort of weeks. If you’re working a 9-5 and still trying to find the time to work on music and things like that. That was the really difficult stage, wasn’t it? When me and Josh had jobs and trying to find time to get into the studio. I think that’s really important. I think a lot of people, and sort of like rightly so, can’t manage to balance everything. But you do sort of need to fit it in where you can and just put everything into it.
Whats the studio process like when working on a new track?
Matt: It’s sort of, it’s variable really I suppose. I mean sometimes we might start a drumbeat. Start with drums and then work on the music after that. Or we might hear a sample we like and try and do something with that. I suppose it’s very different each time. Isn’t it Josh?
Josh: Yeah, we just sort of get inspired to do something and then send something back and forth. And then if we like what the other person started, we carry on working on it till its finished
Matt: There are some tacks where, I mean we’re still looking at like a bunch of older tracks that go back to like 2017 at the minute. So sometimes, it takes us a while to pick up on the tracks that we like. So, we get there in the end. I thinks it’s a pretty good process, because we got two pairs of ears and we’re both super critical of everything we do. So, yeah it works well.
Are there any artists you look up to and take inspiration from?
Josh: We sort of don’t, I don’t know the people that we look up to as such. But we take inspiration from a whole bunch of different artists. Like anyone that makes music really you can take inspiration out of . There’s little things that you notice in a pop song, where they’ve edited a vocal in a certain way, or they’ve used pads in a certain way. You sort of hear ideas from and take away. I don’t know if there’s anyone specific that we sort of directly look up to. It’s just a bunch of artists that we hear daily, we just sort of pick up on things and get inspired by that.
What were some of your favourite moments of the last decade?
Josh: Musically, it’s got to be writing and releasing the two albums that we made. And then gig wise, it’s like getting those first main stages at the staple Drum and Bass festivals like Let it Roll. And doing our first New Zealand tour as well because it’s really cool to go to the other side of the world and notice that people hear your music there as well. That was quite a big moment for us.
Cardiff has a slowly growing, yet underrepresented D&B scene, are you seeing growing support for the genre across the UK?
Matt: Yeah, I think it’s as strong as anything in dance music. It’s always relevant as well, I mean sometimes it’s not at its peak like some other genres of music. But it’s always there and there’s always a healthy scene, whether it’s having a good time or a bad time. And I think this year has been really strong
Josh: Specifically in Cardiff for us. We’ve gone from playing festivals with our friend Max at Kongs, that sort of arcade little venue. Playing there like a couple years ago to then coming back and doing the big Uni venue we’re doing for Outlines tour. Shows how well things for grown for us personally in Cardiff and it’s really exciting.
Matt: And there’s also cities popping up that we’ve never been to before. First time ever I think was Scotland, like the latter half of last year. That was amazing, but wasn’t sure what to expect because we never been booked there before.
Cardiff has been recently suffering from the rapid closure of grassroots music venues like Gwdihw, and Undertone – one of the only local venues for D&B. Do you think this presents a risk for the genre?
Matt: Well, I mean your still going to get your big events. But I suppose the underground scene is suffering a lot because the budgets are not going to be great obviously. Well the budgets will be sort of like getting in the big DJs and obviously not supporting the resident DJs and things like that. And your just gonna lose a lot in the underground scene I think.
Josh: Yeah, but there’s always going to be an underground scene. And there’s always going to be that demand for up and coming DJs to play them, and there’s always going to be that culture. Hopefully it’s always going to survive. But that’s like something that the ravers are going to have to dictate in their choices of where they’re going .
Matt: Well this is it, ultimately the clubs are closing because people are choosing to go elsewhere. The sad reality is if people voted with their wallets that can sort of revert the change, but we’ll see where it goes I suppose.