Four Tet/Kieran Hebden: Fabric 59

We speak to the highly regarded electronic producer as he's up next to mix the new London superclub album

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Kieran Hebden, known as Four Tet, was absolutely clear about his aim for Fabriclive 59 from the needle drop. At the bottom of the release you can find a statement that reads; “I hope people play it fucking loud and lose their minds in it.” Not what you’d expect from a musician crowned as king of the ‘Folktronica’ genre but then Hebden’s abstract production never follows the rule book either. Using overheard conversations, bubbling underwater synths and a healthy dose of speed garage he manages to put a middle finger up to DJs whose only aim is to mix relentlessly in one genre.

Taking a short break in Portland, Oregon the ambient musician comes across relaxed. Not long ago MoMA PS1 had him heat up their New York gallery dance floor and soon enough he’ll be in the Fuji Mountains as part of a tour of Japan. Any self respecting Rock N Roll musician would use the downtime to score groupies, a tourist might see the sights but Hebden’s travel perk is getting to meet musicians he’d never otherwise have the chance too and collecting rare vinyl. The problem being when he produced two brand new tracks for the Fabric compilation they felt out of place amongst the warm bass sounds of his analogue record collection. The fact Hebden then decided to press the digital productions ‘Pyramid’ and ‘Locked’ onto acetate, only to re-record them digitally into the mix, gives a little idea to how much thought went into every detail.

Dazed Digital: Is it true the ‘Michael Redolfi – Immersion Partielle’ track is recorded underwater?
Kieran Hebden:
Yeah, the record I’ve got is all written in Italian so I can’t understand it apart from ‘partial immersion’ and the record sleeve is in 3D so you have to wear 3D glasses to look at it. I think it’s him immersing microphones in water while their bleeping various electronic noises though.

Dazed Digital: What made you kick off with Redolfi’s track?
Kieran Hebden:
Pushing it off with a piece of electronic music that isn’t dance but is very electronic and that was also a big influence as well was an important thing to me. I think that music isn’t used in that context so much and the fact that it had this submerged water thing I though was kind of interesting because I was starting to mix it with all these muffled sounds of the club and music coming in the background while people are chatting. You know that muffled sound and then all those sounds of life and the music comes in nice and clear like when you’re in a club or whatever and you finally go into the main room.

Dazed Digital: You went to a lot of trouble tracking down ‘Persian – Feel Da Vibe’ but you must secretly enjoy meeting up with the original producers?
Kieran Hebden:
Yeah definitely but then also to show other people who might not know this music something really amazing that I think they should hear. I think that Michael Redolfi track at the beginning, a totally obscure early piece of electronic music, the fact that people are going to listen to that now is an exciting thing. There’s this track by David Borden in the middle, and I actually got to meet him a few weeks ago and got to talk to him about how I played his record in a club and he was just like “woah, totally strange.”

Dazed Digital: The whole middle sections with David Borden to C++ sounds like a mini-history of ambient electronica…
Kieran Hebden:
Totally, I think the first half is all about speed garage, it starts off very fast and I like the idea of half way through it going really deep like that, going very slow and that section that you just described with the Burial track is supposed to be the deepest and darkest late night bit of the whole experience.

Dazed Digital: Would you say a lot of you music has this dark sound?
Kieran Hebden:
One guy said to me my records are so dark and moody and another person said it was the happiest thing they heard, and both those things kind of made sense really. I hear them both ways.

Dazed Digital: Parts where you just leave gaps in-between tracks are great…
Kieran Hebden:
I hear a lot of DJ mixes where it’s just a relentless non-stop all the way through and a lot of people are quite used to that - I find it can be just as powerful to have a break. Instead of doing some incredible technical mix if I just stop the record that’s playing for just ten seconds then that can sometimes start more frenzy than anything. Those things pop out at people now, the fact that you’re mentioning it to me now, people are receptive to everything. There are quite big silences between tracks but if you listen to the album as a whole it doesn’t feel like an uncomfortable thing, it increases the impact of the next track but also allows you to process what’s just happened in the previous track.

Fabriclive 59 is out September 19, 2011

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