With a headline slot for Hospitality at Bristol’s Motion nightclub looming tomorrow evening, High Contrast opened up about his latest album Night Gallery and also shared some interesting thoughts about the DnB scene in general. Just like his moniker, this record is all about embracing different styles and caught many people off guard when it was unveiled to the world last week.
Although it might’ve seemed unusual for an artist who has long been synonymous with DnB to deviate from his usual vocation, the Welshman admits a lot of people have taken the album as a pleasant surprise.
“It seems people are finding it quite emotional and they seem to be on the whole very receptive to the mix of styles on this record. I’ve branched out a lot from just making drum n bass and of course that is going to confuse some people and disappoint some but that’s just where my head is at these days.”
After spending so many years behind a set of turntables, the 38-year-old recently entered the world of live shows, demonstrating an extensive eye for detail from the range of instruments to crafting bespoke visuals for certain records.
This new project is something which definitely played a key role in High Contrast’s creative process when he took to the studio to make his sixth album.
“I think with this record I’ve tried to focus on the philosophy of contrast which has been in me since the beginning. However I feel like this is the first time that I’ve really tried to embrace it and not try to make tracks that are just designed for DJing. I’ve tried to make it more of an interesting listening experience and something that I can perform live with my band.”
The deliberate attempt to create music which is different from the status quo was a response to the overwhelming similarity that transcends a lot of records, according to High Contrast.
He went on to talk about how much the internet has become a double-edged sword and why that has resulted in a lack of diversity.
“Today anyone can start making music with FruityLoops (FL Studio) and that is great but I think the downside is that these tools which so many people use are all quite similar. “I think it is one of the paradoxes of the internet where on the one hand you have the whole world and all that knowledge at your fingertips but it’s actually resulted in people narrowing their kind of horizon artistically.”
As well as the range of contrasting styles another thing which stands out about his latest album is the absence of any collaborations with other producers.
The decision to maintain an iron grip over what goes on in the studio is a distinct reflection of High Contrast’s personality. He openly admitted allowing another individual to try and impose their ideas is one which can be fraught with dangers.
“Generally I’m quite a control freak and I don’t collaborate with other producers very often. I think it can be a gamble. You have to make sure you have the right chemistry with the people you try and collaborate with but to me I just felt at this point it is more interesting to collaborate with people coming from a different area.”
Many people will know High Contrast as a music maker first and foremost but he also has a burning passion for films and has long been fascinated by film soundtracks.
When he learned his music was going to feature on the sequel to a film which has commanded such an influence on the whole industry it was a hugely satisfying moment.
“It has been a lifelong dream to be involved with a film. To have the opening song in T2 Trainspotting being a sequel to a film that was so iconic for me growing up was massive.”
The song in question “Shotgun Mouthwash” is one that instantly transports you to another universe where chaos is the order of the day. Assembling such a bewildering work of art might conjure up the thought of months of hard work in a studio but that wasn’t the case for High Contrast.
“I just made it randomly one night and the whole song kind of just came all at once. I didn’t really know what to do with it.”
One of the most influential UK electronic music groups in terms of film and TV soundtracks, Underworld, certainly knew High Contrast had made a record which was very apt.
“They were very encouraging. They played it to Danny Boyle and he immediately thought of it for T2 Trainspotting. I hadn’t made it with that connection in mind but weirdly the lyrics really fitted what was going on with the characters.”
Since putting out his first album 15 years ago the industry as a whole has changed exponentially, from the way music is shared to the type of events which are being staged.
High Contrast was keen to emphasize how festivals are now the in thing and as a result smaller clubs have been pushed onto the periphery.
“I feel like the hardcore DnB head scene has somewhat shrunk and in general the club culture has left in the UK because so many smaller clubs have closed down and the focus is more on big festivals. I think that’s kind of a problem and more underground things struggle. I don’t really know what the solution is to that but things change and evolve.”
Despite a very obvious switch from the kind of environment DnB is being consumed in High Contrast was enthusiastic about how the genre is still going strong when other types of music have faded away.
“There have been so many points over the years where people have said DnB is dead and things like that but it has outlasted a number of other genres that tried to push it out the way a bit. I think it is a resilient beast and with things like the Let It Roll festival happening in the Czech Republic that to me proves it’s still a thriving scene that will keep going on.”
High Contrast plays at the Hospitality takeover of Motion for In:Motion on Saturday 14th October.
Photo courtesy of High Contrast