Interview by: Evan Greenblo [Psymedia]
Hyphen & SFR have been active DJs and producers for over ten years. They released a vinyl (which not many South African producers can say!) on Zombie Recordings in 2008 and regularly play versus sets together. Hyphen describes their sets as a “sort of ying yang vibe going down”, playing a selection of Drum & Bass and Dubstep tunes different from their solo sets. For those heading to Ground Zero this weekend, be sure to get there on Friday to check these guys out after Darth & Vader and Niskerone!
MCBN: Howzit Hyphen and SFR! Now I know you guys have been involved in the Drum & Bass and Dubstep for a number of years. Could you give me a brief history lesson of how you got involved?
Hyphen: Phew, that’s a long story, but I’ve always been into messing with music . Even in high school, all my friends thought electronic stuff was crap, so it’s always been a solo mission. Luckily some of the guys that went to my school were involved with the Drum & Bass scene and the club scene. I had to get involved, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do .
SFR: Hi! Around 1999 I was given a tape recording of The Sublime Drum & Bass Show (which is now run by Hyphen) and fell in love with the music straight away. I started buying records, saving up for turntables and started fiddling around on my Pentium 2 PC trying to make beats.
MCBN: Homegrown threw their final party last year, which was obviously a huge hit on the scene. What kind of impact do you think they made, and who will carry on the legacy?
Hyphen: Homegrown was one of the best things to happen to Drum & Bass in South Africa. It gave DJs, producers and promoters something to aspire to. It was like the Mothership. Twelve years is a long time, so I don’t think any other brand will ever surpass that. Having said that, there are still a serious amount of people who are passionate about the music, that’s why myself, SFR & Rude One stepped up and started Pressure.
SFR: Homegrown was the event that all up and coming DJs and producers aspired to be booked for and was a monthly outlet where the real Drum & Bass heads could let loose on the floor, no strings attached. Personally without Homegrown I would have never been where I am today. It allowed me to test out my new music on a huge sound system. Supposedly some dudes named Hyphen, Rude One and SFR have taken over and rebranded the night Pressure.
MCBN: Correct me if I’m wrong, but in recent years we’ve seen quite a change in the sound of Drum & Bass. It also feels like the genres offshoots – such as Dubstep and Drumstep, with heavy drops, have been pushed in front of drum & bass in terms of popularity. What are your thoughts?
Hyphen: Drum & Bass has always had big heavy drops, that’s nothing new, it’s also always been super diverse with is various moods and tones. I think why it has become more popular is its visibility. It’s on the radio, it’s on MTV, it’s all over TV, and you’ve got guys like Niskerone playing Drum & Bass to new audiences all the time. Plus, it always rocks the party!
SFR: Drum & Bass is Dead. Long live Drum & Bass! The genre has always been around and always will. I personally think that Drum & Bass is stronger than it ever was. I also believe that when Dubstep exploded into the mainstream market, it brought Drum & Bass along with it.
MCBN: This one’s for Hyphen. You’ve hosted The Sublime Drum & Bass Show on Bush Radio 89.5FM for quite some time now. Tell me a bit about how you got started with that and how it’s going today.
Hyphen: The show has been going since the early 90′s. What’s crazy to me is I just used to be a listener. I used to tape every Tuesday, hearing my favourite music on radio was mental to me. The Sublime guys that used to run the show so that myself and my DJ partner at the time (Guyver) were super keen, so they asked us to fill in occasionally. As time went on and things changed, I happened to be the last guy involved. I’ve been doing it for over 10 years now and it’s still one of my favourite ways of getting good music to the people. It’s going super well, the internet and streaming audio and Facebook have helped immensely.
MCBN: Next weekend is Ground Zero – the first collaborative party between Beartrap Productions and West Coast Productions. What are your thoughts on the merging of Psytrance and Electro (as well as other genres) at outdoors? Do you wish you could play more outdoor parties?
Hyphen: We’re lucky enough to play a lot of the outdoor stuff. I love big stages and big sound, the music always seems to sound better outside. I think these days people want variety, so, giving your audience options is a good thing. Also the dance floor seems to go that extra 45% nuts when the occasion is a little bit special and they don’t have to drive home!
SFR: In recent years we have seen many Psytrance events host stages focused on alternative forms of dance music. I think it’s great, and it introduces our crowds to Psytrance and vice versa. I would love to see the day where there are more festivals where other forms of dance music end up on the main stage and not always the second stage. We have so many talented artists in South Africa that are supported so well by the local scene, it’s time to put them on the main stage.
MCBN: Do you feel like other genres featuring at outdoors more regularly would help evolve and merge the electronic scenes a bit?
Hyphen: It’s happening more and more. I mean I get some of the biggest Psytrance guys coming up to me and saying positive things about the music. That wouldn’t have happened 5 years ago.
SFR: I think I’ve answered this with the last question.
MCBN: Moving on, you guys regularly team up together for a set. Why do you feel your sounds work well together? What’s the key to a successful collaboration?
Hyphen: We’ve always liked similar stuff. Also, when we play it’s relaxed and fun. We are there to have a good time. We’ve also got a sort of ying yang vibe going down with our styles, which seems to work well in a set. We also try do some different things to when we play separately.
SFR: Yeah, when we perform together we often allow ourselves to experiment a little bit more than we would usually on our own. I often play stuff that I would never play out on my own. I think the key to a successful collaboration is communication. We discuss our sets on the way to the gig, we chat during our sets while trying to read the crowd and base our track selections on that. After the show we always discuss how the set went, what tunes worked, what didn’t and then note it for our next show.
MCBN: You guys have released on vinyl before. Do you still ever play on vinyl, and do you still see a need for it?
Hyphen: Vinyl is cool if you’re a serious collector. It’s just not viable with our exchange rate. That’s why I moved to buying MP3′s. Having said that, being a producer one of the goals was to get a tune on vinyl, which luckily I got to do with our track Visions.
SFR: The last time I played on vinyl was about a year or 2 ago and it was specifically a “classics” style set. I love vinyl, but unfortunately it has become too impractical to still use it regularly in this day in age. I still think there is a place in the world for vinyl, but more towards music collectors. Nowadays everything is digital, to a collector a vinyl release is a real, malleable thing. It’s a big piece of plastic where you can actually see the music cut into it, with often large, colourful artwork on the sleeve. As opposed to an MP3 file on your hard drive.
MCBN: Why should the regular outdoor psy stompers check out your Hyphen vs SFR set at Ground Zero, for those who don’t know your tunes?
Hyphen: It’s gonna be big fun and full of bass, if you don’t hear something you don’t like, I would be surprised.
SFR: Hmm… well, we love all kinds of music and love sharing that love with people on the dance floor. Plus if Hyphen gets excited he usually pops a little Madiba shuffle. Definitely worth it!
MCBN: Any upcoming releases you want to mention?
Hyphen: Hopefully. I just got a new setup, so I’m busy working – stay tuned!
SFR: I have a forthcoming Dubstep single on W10 Recordings UK coming out soon and I’m busy locking off my next Drum & Bass release too.
MCBN: Thanks for the interview. Check you at Ground Zero! Any last words?
Hyphen: Just thanks to everyone involved, from the stage managers to the people on the dance floor to the organisers. My life revolves around the music and it wouldn’t be possible without the kind words and support from everyone. I need to quote my man Rodigan here: ” The music is what it’s all about, I love it just like you love it, that’s why you’re here, I’m here cos I love to play, you don’t come, I can’t play and I love to play. So, I won’t make too many speeches cos it’s all about the music ”
SFR: Hyphen for President!