Hi Tek grime.
Anthoney J Hart is something of a dance music historian. With his Basic Rhythm project, he makes powerful reductions of old-school UK pirate radio music, like hardcore, jungle and early drum & bass. He's a walking encyclopedia when it comes to records—one of his recent endeavours, the Straight From The Bedroom mix series, methodically highlights key tracks from the UK rave and hardcore era. Under the alias Imaginary Forces, he twists the influence of these styles to much noisier and more abstract ends. For his latest project, East Man, Hart turned to an actual historian for inspiration. Fuelled by the influence of professor Paul Gilroy, the debut East Man album wrestles with the disenfranchisement of London's youth culture through the lens of its music scenes. Red, White & Zero presents a survey of London past and present, with a host of local MCs and a sound that Hart calls Hi Tek, a blend of grime, dancehall, drum & bass and techno. East Man is music that navigates the lineage of UK dance music without resorting to nostalgia or cliché. More importantly, it bangs.
Hart's RA podcast, made entirely from original material, repurposes the album into a club set. It's an hour of barebones grime, hard-hitting garage and other stepping beats, interspersed with verses and spoken-word passages about the trials of growing up in a city that distrusts young people. It's a sound that should feel familiar to fans of UK dance music, yet it's innovation enough for those chasing the high of something new. In other words, a great summary of London dance music culture.
What have you been up to recently?
I just finished the album not that long ago actually, and am currently working on new material. I did sets for Rinse and JustJam in the last couple of weeks, and a show at Corsica for the LCC. I'm also working on some new Basic Rhythm material at the moment.
How and where was the mix recorded?
It's a studio mix recorded using Ableton. I also cut dubplates for DJ sets, but I wanted to do something a bit more slick and fluid for this, much like the live show, and you can do stuff in Ableton that you can't using dubplates.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
It's somewhere between my live show and DJ set. I wanted to play tracks from the album as well as a lot of new unreleased tracks I have been working on. It features tracks with the MCs from the album: Killa P, Irah, Saint P, Lyrical Strally, Kwam, Darkos Strife and Eklipse.
How did you arrive at the idea of describing your music as Hi Tek?
It was sort of a joke and a play on the word "tekkerz." Tekkerz means you are very skilled at something—you have tekkerz—and as the music is quite technical in some respects, plus takes a bit of influence sonically from techno, I started jokingly referring to it as Hi Tek. It seems that people are starting to use it now.
How did you come to work with Paul Gilroy?
Paul and I became friends over the past few years after I reached out to him regarding some personal research I was doing about representation of working class families and racial tropes. We had been toying around with a few ideas before this album started to take proper shape, as I was going to get him to do a spoken-word piece at that time, but it didn't come together as the album changed direction, so it seemed natural to ask him if he would contribute a text for the album as these are all the things we have spent the last few years talking about.
What are you up to next?
I'm always working on new tracks, and as I mentioned earlier I am currently working on the next Basic Rhythm album for Planet Mu, as well as 12-inches for the Warp sub-label Arcola. I am hoping to do a few shows, maybe even get back over to Japan for another tour as I know the promoters I worked with last time are interested. Any agents should hit me up now as things are starting to pop off. Ha! We are also going to be doing a sort of short film about the album with FACT. Lots of bits and pieces coming up!