In Conversation With: Hybrid Minds
Josh White and Matt Lowe aka Hybrid Minds have been a consistently important part of the Drum & Bass scene. Their stunning soundscapes and melodic instrumentals soon became a signature sound and have gained recognition all across the planet.
Hybrid Minds work from their own studios where the duo create unique music, from liquid to dancefloor fillers. The pair has had such a remarkable year with music and have made insane movements, including some of 2020s most anticipated collaborations and releases for the Drum & Bass scene. With so much news and exciting things coming their way, we had the incredible opportunity of chatting to Josh, 50% of the men behind the magic, about it all.
Pleasure to speak to you! I’ve been a huge fan of yours for a while now and it has been incredible following the Hybrid Minds journey. How have you been finding things as artists in these strange times?
The initial thing we’ve taken from it all is making music, before we were struggling to find time to focus on that. Missing out on the shows earlier in the year and in summer was a shame but it gave more time to reflect and make more music which is important to us. It’s easy to lose the time to focus on the creative process and lockdown was a good opportunity to get that time back.
It can be difficult making music and working without seeing the response of the crowd from events so we really miss the crowds, their reactions and playing out, because that’s essentially where the music ends up and that is a big part of its purpose so missing that has been a bit weird.
Do you think lockdown has affected the industry in that way? Where a lot of producers are feeling stuck or finding that it’s difficult to know how the crowd will react to the music they make?
Yeah I think especially for people that make the heavier stuff and the Drum & Bass that is pretty much exclusively made for listening to in a club. I feel like those people have had a real testing time of knowing whether they should be even releasing that music or waiting until the clubs are open and release it then. Then the worry of when will that happen and am I just not going to release any music for a year or so, so it’s probably been quite hard for those people.
Luckily we have always focused, as well as the clubs, upon people listening at home and people just listening to the music, so in that sense, I think we’re quite lucky that we have still been able to crack on with releasing music but for the dance floor stuff it must be so hard because you can’t exactly get a vibe off a comment section on Facebook.
I can imagine its a peculiar time, completely unprecedented! But, speaking of events, the Printworks night Hybrid Minds were going to do earlier in the year looked incredible, I know I was excited to see it. I’m sure you guys felt the same that was a shame to see that as one of the events that had to be put on hold?
Yeah, it was a case of bad timing really because I think everything went into lockdown the week before we were supposed to do it and it was going to be the big pay off for our work. It was the biggest event we’ve ever done in our favourite club, the club felt right for that event and we were really looking forward to it and it was real bad timing. We had loads of stuff planned for it but that will eventually happen and in hindsight, now we’ve taken it to the O2 Academy, it has a bigger capacity, a bigger venue, so it’s going to help in the long run. Everything will be that much better and bigger, but it did come at such a bad time because we really worked hard and were ready for putting everything towards that show, so it was a bit of a kick in the teeth. A lot of pressure was taken off – we could stop worrying about it because we didn’t have to do it yet.
With our other shows, same as everyone else, everything we had planned is being rescheduled and anything that wont happen this year will get postponed, same as everyone else, it’s hard to make plans at the moment.
I’m looking forward to seeing events start up again. Let’s hope it’s not too far in the future. Another recent thing I’ve seen you involved in is being announced as the Monday night hosts for KISS FM which is incredible to hear. When does that happen and what kind of vision do you have for the show?
Yeah, it’s another silver lining to the lockdown because its something I don’t think we would have been able to find the time for previously but now everything’s changed its actually been a really good way of getting us to go through music, listen to music, and get inspiration or getting excited about music in Drum & Bass because without gigs there’s not as much need to go through promos and stay on top of that stuff, so it’s been really good for that. Our plan for it was that we’re going to have some guest mixes from our friends or people that we like and just keep playing music that we love, every Monday and keep going with it. It’s a nice lockdown job.
I know I can speak for myself and others when I say I’m glad some good Drum & Bass will be blessing our airwaves!
Yeah! It’s quite exciting for it not to be in the middle of the night, it’s interesting and we want to play music for everyone that’s into the scene but we also want to try and show people that are driving in their car, or that might not necessarily be into Drum & Bass, what is this all about and play some nice accessible music for them as well as playing all the underground heavy stuff. A lot of people say that their parents like us and that we are quite accessible Drum & Bass, so hopefully can get some people into it.
I think it will definitely bring a bigger audience to Drum & Bass, get them dancing around their kitchens on a Monday. I know I remember listening to pirate radio as a kid and tuning into Drum & Bass. Do you think that part of the culture influenced you today?
Yeah, you know everyone when they start DJing ends up on some kind of radio site or something and it is that sort of routine and that fun element of just listening to music or playing music that’s liked and sharing that with people that you don’t know. You don’t know who they are or where their listening from that sort of stuff is quite exciting and it’s a really fun process.
Incredible being able to bring people together with music. So working with a producer like Netsky must have been an insane experience. I really like the new single. It’s perfect for lockdown and 2020 generally, especially the lyrics. Did you move in that direction intentionally?
We have wanted to make a tune with Netsky for ages, since the day we got into Drum & Bass and when he first came about he had this really exciting sound so we’ve looked up to him in that regard since then. To do a track with him was just really exciting for us. Something we never thought we would be doing and now it’s become a norm almost… it’s quite crazy.
Was he always on your list of people you’ve wanted to work with?
Absolutely, he has such a predominant sound that he is well known for and rightly so, that Hospital Records sound that he came with in the first place is the perfect balance of accessible, commercial, liquid and still keeping all its integrity attached as well. That’s something we’ve always looked up to, so that was a really good moment and to get on this album which is a nod towards where his sound came from was a really nice experience.
Do you have any other dream producers you want to work with?
Yeah we’ve started a track with Pendulum which is going to be released next year, which is again one of the acts who got us into Drum & Bass, as I’m sure they did a lot of other people, so to be working with them is a bit nuts…they’re like hero status. To be one of the few collaborations they’ve done is…yeah I can’t quite understand it….I’m all for it. I really like how that track is turning out.
When I heard it previewed on Fort live stream it sounded incredible and seemed to have a great audience response…
They played it on there yeah, it’s not quite finished yet, but the response was just insane, we were watching in the comments and it was really exciting. We can’t wait to get that out next year. When you do a collaboration with someone like that you don’t know if people want that person to be heading in your direction or working with you, because they have such a die hard fan base, so to see their fan base happy about it was a relief and now we’re just excited to get it out.
It’s an insane track and I’m really excited to hear the finished piece. Could you tell me about your involvement in the 20 years of Anjuna compilation remixing a single from Above & Beyond?
Yeah we’ve been big fans of Above & Beyond for ages and admire how far they’ve come with an underground sound without mad radio plays and it’s such a well respected label so it’s brilliant to do a remix for them. Anyone that likes us is always good news and when it’s people of that stature it’s very welcome! The remix went through a few different versions and we felt that it had the right balance and now we’re happy where it is, so that’s going be out in December.
Really exciting movements for you guys. I couldn’t chat to you without talking about the huge and almost sold out Brixton Academy show, you must be buzzing! How do you prepare for a show like that?
So that’s essentially the Printworks night which has evolved to this event, and we haven’t done a headline show on that scale yet. We’ve done some in our ‘Outline Tour’ and they were good and helped us get ready for this kind of show, but I don’t know how we will get ready for that kind of show apart from spending a lot of time on it until we’re at a place that we’re comfortable that we’re not going to f*ck it all up. You just sort of forget about all the worrying stuff, that all disappears on the night, and then you forget about it and take it in after its happened I suppose…worry about it until it happens, then you black out, then you wake up after it’s finished.
Sometimes nerves do kick in, it’s rare for us now and unexpected but it’s usually if you’re playing to a crowd where the artist before you has played something different. Last summer we were worried about playing after someone who may have been heavier or a different genre, you worry that you will press play people will leave the tent, but last summer that didn’t happen so we started to get more confident about it. So that’s the main place nerves come from for us.
If you stop caring that you’ll mess up then you have nothing to worry about and that’s the sort of mentality that I take into gigs and help me stay calm about it.
I know every time I’ve seen you it’s seemed incredible from my perspective!
Haha adding on the pressure for next time!
I hope to be in one of your crowds watching soon! Have you had a favourite venue to play in or performance that you’ve done that highlight for you?
Every time I’m asked that, me and Matt both pretty much say those headlines show we do in London or festivals in New Zealand. It’s when you go there for the first time and see how big the Drum & Bass scene is. It’s something that sticks with every Drum & Bass producer that’s been there, it’s just a really weird experience to see music from the UK that big all the way over the other side of the planet. To go out there in the middle of our winter which is the middle of their summer festival season, it’s a really good experience. It’s a great trip.
Quick fire questions!
That’s a hard one…production value Camo & Krooked, we look up to them constantly for their genius technical ability.
Not really, we’re taking in so much music because of the Kiss show that there’s so much stuff we like it’s hard to pinpoint something at the moment where we have to listen to so much music and not pinpoint one track in particular.
Go to shower song?
I don’t know….maybe i need to get one!
Any tips for producers in lockdown for motivation?
I suppose spend as much time as you can in the studio and if nothing is working don’t be too hard on yourself. Take a walk or whatever, do something else.
We’ve been finding this as well you can work yourself into a hole and if something isn’t coming out of it then it’s best to take a break, step away from something even for a few days and come back when you’re feeling more inspired to work on it. Try to work smart basically and spend as much time as you can in the studio but if it’s not been productive and it’s making you angry then, stop.
Thanks so much, it’s been great to speak with you and it’s really exciting to hear all the big things you’ve got going on, I can’t wait to hear the Pendulum song and tune in regularly with your Kiss FM shows on Mondays!