The dub techno don mixes up both old and new on this week's RA podcast.
If you've been at all interested in dub techno over the last few years, then you'll most likely be aware of Stephen Hitchell already. As one-half of Echospace with Rod Modell, the duo created one of the most celebrated dub techno records in recent years with 2007's The Coldest Season. Hitchell had been well ensconced in the electronic music scene, however, long before his partnership with Modell. After becoming a massive dub and reggae fan, Hitchell discovered house and techno music through Josh Werner from Chicago's Gramaphone Records (who now produces with Hitchell under their EmpathyBox moniker) in the early '90s. After being handed copies of The Orb's "Little Fluffy Clouds" and "In Dub," he became obsessed with collecting and making this music, and began releasing material as Radius in addition to stockpiling work that would eventually come out as Soultek.
His Soultek moniker is generally an outlet for his more conventional techno material, which is often drenched in jazzy, wistful melodies that you wouldn't normally associate with Echospace. Much of that is down to his partner's obsession with minimalism and texture over overt melodies, but Hitchell's colourful tones were allowed to flourish on the dub-drenched "Empyrean," which proved to be one of The Coldest Season's main highlights. Hitchell also wears his deep rooted love of reggae on his sleeve with his recent work as Intrusion, with the serene skank of "Tswana Dub" and the Paul St Hilaire fronted "Little Angel" nestling nicely between ambient washes and hypnotic techno. As with his The Seduction Of Silence album, his mix for the RA podcast sees Hitchell joining the dots between reggae and techno, resulting in a deep 90 minute excursion that focuses heavily on classic Basic Channel tracks as well as Hitchell's own productions.
What have you been working on recently?
I released the debut Intrusion album along with an LP and three singles from The Seduction Of Silence on echospace over the past year, a new live album under cv313 coming out in May in Japan and also an ambient, acoustic album under the name, Variant titled The Setting Sun which is now out on Beatport and Boomkat digitally. I also have two big digital releases coming out next week on Beatport: A new digital exclusive album under Soultek next week and cv313's "Subtraktive" with new remixes by Luke Hess, Brian Kage, Phase90 and Intrusion. (You can also buy a lot of my stuff at Rubadub too.)
I've also been working on an interpretive album of an upcoming ambient project by Brock Van Wey which will be out on Echospace in June. Rod Modell and I have been working on a follow up Echospace album for Modern Love for the past two years which we're hoping to complete this month, and also the debut cv313 album on Echospace this summer. And last but not least, my close friend Josh Werner and I have finally finished up our first album of the EmpathyBox project which has literally been in the works for over ten years now. We're still using the same analog hardware we did 15 years ago.
Outside of those major projects I've also been working on various releases for echospace and a house project called vivace for Wave Music and many new remixes coming out, from Linkwood Family "Miles Away" on Firecracker, Luke Hess "Reel Life" on Echocord, Son's Of The Dragon "The Journey Of Qui Niu" on Echospace, a cv313 mix of Convextion's "Black Laquer" on Vext and Brendon Moeller w/Paul St. Hilaire's "Where's The Sunshine" on Francois K's Deep Space imprint, a few of these projects you will hear featured in this podcast.
How and where was the mix recorded?
This mix was recorded on two 1200's, a Pioneer DJM500, an old crappy CDJ with a broken pitch knob. (I had to move it up and down with a pen cap while mixing.) In terms of music, I mainly use the records I had in my flight case from the last radio show I played, which was a while ago now. I also burned some of the remixes and unreleased material to CD which I also used in the mix along with a sampler here and there to create a few different grooves on top of the mixes. I also have the send effects on the mixer hooked up to a delay unit. The only issue with the mix is the gain on channel 2 and 4 on my mixer are both very sensitive and tend to scale up 2-3+ DB in volume every now and again (depending on how gentle I am using the EQ) of course I tried correcting it most of the time but couldn't control it the whole way through, sorry!
Can you tell us a little about the mix?
Well, like I said most of the records used in the mix were records I played on my last radio show which was a while back. I love all the records I played and know most of them very well. Overall, the mix constantly builds, it starts out very gentle, deep and dub-oriented but builds and build the entire way through with its most aggressive moment coming at the very end.
Do you have any plans to work with vocalists in the future?
Yes, I would like to work with Paul St. Hilaire again in the future and my wife also does vocals for one of my projects which is sort of jazz oriented with a dub touch called vivace. Her and I have been working on an album and a single will be coming out on Francois K's Wave Music imprint sometime this year, he has been playing out the track from the first single for a while now.
How do you decide which of your monikers to use for each track?
Well, each project has a certain variation in sound, but when I record new material I don't think about where it will end up or which project to work on. When it comes to music and recording I never know what is going to happen in the studio which to me is really what keeps all of it interesting, I get different results all the time using very similar methods. Mood changes everything.
What are you up to next?
Work, work, work. Hours and days collecting field recordings, hopefully a few more shows and trips overseas this summer and fall. A new Echospace album, cv313 album, Son's Of The Dragon project, EmpathyBox album, Intrusion interpretive album of Brock Van Wey's beautiful "White Clouds Drift On and On," a few more remixes, new singles and more music.