DJ Hype Interview 2014

DJ Hype Drum and Bass

Pioneering Drum & Bass since the ‘90s, DJ Hype is the underground king always pushing for excellence, whether it’s for his own sets or the releases from Real Playaz. Luckily for his fans in Oz, he’s coming on tour this April, so we thought it would be a great time to pick his brain on commercial D&B, touring the world and what to expect for the rest of the year.

Hi Hype, how are you?

Excellent. Where in the world are you right now?
I am at home in east London, preparing for my radio show tonight.

You’re heading out to Australia this April for a national tour alongside Funsta. Are you excited about the tour?
I am always excited to come to Australia.

What’s your favourite thing about touring in Australia?
I just love this part of the world; I love vibe of the people, the relaxed atmosphere and the weather, of course.

And the worst part?
The long flights, the jet lag, and the rip off charges for Internet in all your hotels. I go all over the world and your Internet is a complete rip off compared to anywhere else in the world!

Where’s the most amazing destination that your career has taken you?
Everywhere is amazing for different reasons, and I am lucky enough to have travelled all over the globe: USA, Canada, Asia (Japan, Hong Kong, China, Cambodia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand), all over Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Bulgaria, Romania… I had never been anywhere outside of the UK before I DJ’d and was pretty much destined life on the dark side of the street. A lot of the people I grew up with are mad, dead or in prison. It sounds cheesy, but music really did save my life and gave me the option to escape the path I was heading down in my early teens.

D&B is in the mainstream now with acts such as Rudimental. How does that make you feel as one of the originators?
I have mixed feelings on this. I am not personally into the whole commercial Drum and Bass made for mainstream sound, after all Drum and Bass music was originally created as rebellious music to stick our fingers up at the mainstream and never got mainstream support. If a track did end up in the pop charts it was a genuine hit made by the underground and the top end of Drum and Bass DJs and producers and the fans acted as a filter to stop anything that was not genuine getting through. Now it’s more about getting Radio 1 to play stand, bypassing the underground, but the positive side is it brings in new fans to Drum and Bass that will get into the underground side too. The underground side of drum and bass is where I am most comfortable, as I am one of the pioneers who created it as a two finger salute to the mainstream who never supported us, but these days I see the importance of both scenes running parallel, although I believe the underground is where the best producers are created and the mainstream is where Drum and Bass is pretty much based on the vocal hook rather than its production. To sum it up, I support the commercial side as long as we have a strong underground movement too… And right now I feel we have the best of both worlds.

When you’re not DJ Hype-ing, what do you like to listen to?
I listen to all music types. I like everything from Reggae, Soul, House, Hip-Hop, Opera, Classical, film score music, Ska, Punk and even the odd Pop song!

You used to play with Skibadee, Adam F, Roni Size – do you still stay in touch?
I used to play with a lot of DJs and MCs that I don’t really see any more. I am friends with a few including Adam F, who I speak to a couple of times a year, but I am not close friends with that many. It does not mean I hate them or anything like that – they are my work associates not my real friends. I still have my close friends that I grew up, with but I do have couple of close Jungle friends too.

A lot of us grew up listening to you in our teens/late teens, and now D&B is such a mainstream different thing… What do you think changed that made it this way?
If a type of music is good and popular on the underground, then it will have pop hits in the end and that will inspire more artists to make pop hits rather than underground music and in the early days the mainstream did not follow our music or understand it… Now we have young people who work in the mainstream music scene that grew up on Jungle/Drum and Bass, and also commercial radio support. All this did not happen so much in the early days.

It’s hard for those coming out of a generation that had endless access to good Electronic, Dance, Drum and Bass in the early noughties, to now be confronted with mainstream “EDM” which a lot of seems to lack depth – what are your thoughts on this? Do you think the gates being opened by the Internet have played a role in this?
On a personal tip, I am not that mad on the whole EDM sound, but I don’t hate it either. It’s a music that is popular with a lot of young people today. I have noticed over the years that every four-five years the music changes direction and the younger crowd will love the change and the older crowd will bang on about it not being like it was in their day… I went through a period of being like that myself, but snapped out of it as I realised my whole career has been organic and I have evolved with it. Being organic has kept me at the top of my game for this long, plus if the music did not evolve in different ways, it would have died years ago. I don’t always like the direction Drum and Bass goes, but I also recognise its needs to keep moving like it always has to stay alive.

What’s your all time favourite gig that you’ve played? Set the scene for us!
There are too many – it’s all a drunk blur! I love DJing and I am happy in front of 50 people or 50,000 people. If the sound system is great then I am happy to perform.

So tell us, what’s new on Real Playaz? Any artists we should be listening out for coming out of there?
We have original Sin EP, Annix EP, Heist and Pleasure Ep, Flavours Vol 7, Bass Brothers EP, and hopefully a Hazard project. Having a nice roster of artists means I can get a lot more music released on a more regular scale compared to a couple of years ago.

What are you currently working on? Can we look forward to some new beat treats?
I am getting in the studio to start producing again. It’s early days for me, but I should hopefully get a release later this year.

So what’s in the pipeline for 2014?
We are getting more label nights around the UK and Europe, and I am looking forward to getting more label nights in 2015. I have just started a new Playaz label for up-and-coming Drum and Bass artists. We have Potential Badboy, Original Sin, and maybe even Hazard all looking to do albums as well as the regular onslaught of releases on Playaz including artists Annix, Sub Zero, Taxman, Original Sin and Bass Brother. I will be touring Asia later this year as well as the usual DJ schedule taking me all around the globe as well as my playaz@fabric london night that is in its 14th year and my regular radio show on Kiss, now in its 20th year, and I am even producing some music in the studio at the moment with Potential Badboy and Tyke – just got to find the time to fit it all in!