If another duo has caused as much hype as Him_Self_Her in the house music scene over the past twelve-or-so months, then we’re yet to hear from them. To give this British duo their dues, however, it’s all entirely justified, not least because of their propensity for outstanding, dancefloor focused house cuts. But don’t just take our word for it, as Leon and Claire have also managed to prick the ears of some of the scene’s leading labels. With their debut outing for Andre Crom’s OFF, the brilliant Heartstopper EP having just landed on the shelves, we thought it as apt a time as ever to dial up the guys, as they gave us the lowdown on a story that’s as indebted to a love of music as it is sheer hard work and commitment…
Obvious questions out of the way first – how did you guys meet? Was it through a shared love of house music?
It just happened naturally, as were both DJing at the same venues around the Midlands (UK) and because we had similar styles we often got booked on the same line ups. So yes, it was definitely through a shared love of house music!
Did you immediately respect one another’s musical tastes then? What did you recognise in the other person?
We knew from DJing together so many times that we were on the same page with regards to the style of music that we wanted to produce and play out. But our musical backgrounds before this point were actually quite different, which helps a lot in the studio because it means we both bring different ideas and influences to the table.
And what was the music scene like in Leicester when you were growing up? Did you get out clubbing often? Did you have to go to other cities for your kicks?
The clubbing scene in Leicester 10-15 years ago was amazing as we had incredible clubs like The Emporium, Die Hard and Junction 21 putting on the most cutting edge nights. There was no need to go to any other cities to party, and being a part of that clubbing scene was what drew us both into DJing in the first place. Unfortunately over the last few years these venues have closed down, and the scene in Leicester has changed to much smaller more intimate parties.
And who inspired you back then as DJs and producers? How have your sounds changed in the intervening years?
When we first started out we were both inspired by DJs like Fergie and MYNC project who used to play regularly at the Emporium. We both then spent the 10 years DJing over a range of different styles, including Hard House, Trance, Progressive, Electro, Fidget, Funky House and then into the deeper style that we make and play today.
And what sort of guys are inspiring you now?
To name a few… Fur Coat, Samu L, German Brigante, &me, Ame, Dixon, Francesca Lombardo, Tale of Us, Mind Against.
What prompted you to start DJing and producing as a duo then? How long have you been doing it?
After we met, we decided to put on a party together in our home town, as we felt there was a gap for our style of music in Leicester. This led to a couple of studio sessions together – just for fun really and to make some music that we could play at our own parties, but the results we got were so instant that we knew we had to make it an official partnership and we have been working together for 2 years now.
What do you consider to be your big breakthrough then? How would you look back on the past twelve months?
Obviously our track ‘Gone Too Long’ has really pushed us into the limelight, which is pretty crazy really as it was only the second release we had as a duo. We knew we had something special when we made that track, but we never realised just how far it would take us.
It’s funny really because even though we have made a lot of music since then, the last 12 months have still been dominated by Gone Too Long, because it was such a big tune. Hopefully our new release on OFF Recordings will take over from it!
Can you talk me through your studio set up a bit? Who does what? How does one act as a foil to the other?
We have a pretty simple studio arrangement, based around Logic, with a whole bunch of plug-ins depending on the style and sound of the track, plus a basic vocal recording set up using ProTools. We also have a Native Instruments Maschine if we feel like getting more hands on.
We have clear roles in the studio but we work on all projects together from start to finish. Claire looks after the more technical side as her background is Music Technology, and I have a strong creative input with a background in DJing across a wide variety of genres. Most importantly we bounce ideas off each other, and of course we argue a lot over who makes the coffee!
I wanted to ask about the Heartstopper EP on OFF. Have you been fans of the label for a long time?
OFF is an amazing label that came to our attention early last year and we have been following them ever since. Some of the releases they have had so far are absolutely massive and they have built a huge following, so we are delighted to have our name on the label with so many other great artists.
Did you write the EP with the label in mind or did Andre contact you after?
We don’t really write music with any particular label in mind, as we tend to go with the flow in the studio and just see where the feeling takes us. But as soon as we had finished Heartstopper we knew that it would fit perfectly on the label so we sent it straight over. A day or so later we got a message from Andre saying he had played it at a festival and he could not believe the reaction it got!
I gather you’re delighted with the remix too?
Yes we are really pleased with the remix! It is a great twist on the original.
About the original, did it end up exactly as you imagined? How does it work in the studio with you guys? Do you just work as you go along?
We don’t often have a plan for projects when we start them, especially vocal tracks. In fact we often work backwards, so we will record a vocal over a very rough loop and then make a new backing track to fit around it, and that is exactly how we made Heartstopper. The result we got was a little different from our usual style, with tinges of acid and electro, but we definitely made it with the dance floor in mind and we are really pleased with the reactions it has got so far!
What’s next for Him_Self_Her?
Obviously the biggest release for us right now is our single on OFF recordings, but we are really excited to have a lot more original material coming out soon, including EPs on Resonance Records and Underground Audio, plus the follow up single to ‘Gone Too Long’ which comes out later this year on Crosstown Rebels.
We also have remixes forthcoming on Love Not Money, Nueva Deep, Karera, Gotham City and Chronovision.
Gig wise we have just confirmed bookings in Russia, South Africa, Manchester and Dublin in the next couple of months, plus we continue our residency at Egg London for Night Train which is always a great party. See you on the dance floor!