Things have come full circle for Silent Dust member Andy Hobbs.
Having emerged in the early/mid 2000s as Hobzee, he’s now returned to that alias for the first time in 15 years, easing himself back into our playlists as a solo artist. So far well-received dispatches have landed on the respected likes of Influence, Soul Deep and Goldfat. Now he’s levelled up with a debut on Doc Scott’s seminal 31 imprint.
Perhaps his most accomplished and striking release so far during this new chapter, his remarkable In The Dark EP hits all the sweet spots between his Soul:r roots, his Silent Dust autonomicizms and a more contemporary deep, technoid sound.
Timeless cosmic adventures that build on everything he’s achieved over the years, while exploring new territories and ideas, In The Dark is contextualised neatly in this sublime 1 More Mix expedition…
A mixture of forthcoming treats and classic beats, it captures where Andy is at right now and what’s always inspired him about drum & bass. We caught up with him to find out more…
How’s everything been? I last saw you in 2019, how was your covid era?
It’s weird. I always feel a bit guilty for saying this, but I quite enjoyed it. I don’t like saying that. I know it was hell for a lot of people. Tragic. So many people died. But I appreciated its benefits, you know? I think a lot of people like us who’ve got hobbies and passions, we could just do what we wanted to do and get on with it. In a way it was sort of liberating because it removed that pressure of feeling you need to go and see people or do things.
I talk about the silver lining all the time! Did you get to work then? We’re enjoying a lot of Hobzee output right now. Was all this made during that time?
Well, technically, I haven’t released anything under the Hobzee name since 2008. The first Silent Dust album was made as Hobzee and Zyon Base but Marcus Intalex said he didn’t really like our names and that he felt they didn’t suit the music. I was really happy to be called Silent Dust. I never liked the Hobzee name, it was just something I came up with when I first started to send demos out and it just stuck! But I think what I’m making now is more suited to that name.
I don’t know. I think it’s quite freeing to return to something that was a little bit more traditional. I wouldn’t say Silent Dust disappeared up our own arses, but we never wanted to make the same track twice, which perhaps was to our detriment. Whereas with Hobzee, it’s a bit more immediate and natural. Almost more like a Hobzee 2.0. I’ve learned a lot more. I’m a better producer and it’s nice to return to that sound. I think since the clubs re-opened, the deeper or leftfield stuff has had a bit of a struggle.
I keep thinking of this interview that I did with Kid Drama a couple of months ago. Obviously him and Trace have their Nine Windows project which taps back to the original deep sound – things like Good Looking Records and that whole atmospheric jungle vibe. And that naturally leads to where you’re at. I think we’re due a renaissance of the more musical style.
Hopefully yeah. It was definitely what I was going for when I started making Hobzee music again so when I saw the Nine Windows project I was pleased!
It’s the sound I love about this mix in particular. How you have a lot of modern things on there but also a lot of things that date back to that exciting early 2000s Soul:r sound.
Thanks. I don’t really listen to a lot of drum & bass. I know it’s cliche to say it, but a lot of producers don’t. Just purely because you don’t want to get too immersed in one thing because you’ll start to inadvertently copy other people, which isn’t good.
But when I do listen to drum & bass, I listen to things that make me tick, you know? It doesn’t matter if it’s 20 years old or if it came out yesterday, if it’s doing that thing that I like but I can’t really put my finger on, then I’ll play it. And with the mix, I could have put 20 ID – ID, unreleased tunes on it. Or asked a load of mates for music that’s forthcoming but what’s the point?
Yeah that’s not a real reflection of you or what your parameters are.
I think a mix should always have touchstones. Like nods to something else so if someone is willing to join the dots, they can.
Love that. I’m interested in what you said about not being able to put your finger on what it is about the music that you love. Yet you make it yourself!
Haha, yeah. With the label None60 we’ve brought a few younger names in that have gone on to bigger and better things. Just talking to them, we always say, ‘Don’t worry about trying to do this or trying to do that. The one thing we’ve all got is that nobody is us.’ That sounds like really cheesy and everything but it’s true.
Totally! Blondy said that in this interview. That was about entering DJ competitions but when it comes to having your own sound then the only truly authentic thing that you’ve got is yourself.
Yes. And with a bit of luck and a lot of hard work then you might end up with some people appreciating what you’re doing. If what you do is absolutely terrible though, then there’s no hope for you!
Well there’s still personal enjoyment isn’t there? Not everyone who plays football wants to get paid for it. Not everyone who owns a guitar is in a band. But it seems like if you produce electronic music then you have to release it. Even though for some it should probably stay at a hobby level.
Yeah. There’s a lot of pressure as well. We’ve all got to get these passive income streams, we’ve got to try and be our best selves, be it fitness or wealth or relationships. And that can be seen in the music industry with people making sample packs and YouTubers with production channels and platforms. There’s a whole industry that’s been built up around it and that wasn’t there when I first started making music. And I think, on the back of that, there’s a pressure for people who’ve just started to make music. Like, ‘Oh, I’ve watched all the videos, therefore I should be good. It should be released. I’m doing everything the guy told me!
That’s not artistry, though, is it?
No. But the democratization of music and music technology is brilliant because we can all have a go. The amount of old school guys that will tell you how they’d save up for months just to go and get a studio session would agree. It means that some kid out there who just wants to have a bash at it can do.
Yeah, completely! Do you think if you came through 20 years later, do you think you would have embraced these other revenue streams so you could achieve a full time job in music and avoid the 9-5. Would there be a Hobzee tutorial platform?
I don’t know! I’ve never done music full time. I’ve been, I’ve been quite lucky really in that my job has always been relatively stable and the two worlds don’t really interfere with each other. I like that because when I’m in producer mode, I seem to make better use of my time. When I’ve had periods where I can just concentrate on music, I find myself being a bit too lazy with it.
But I do wish those avenues were around when we first started making music together. Dan was just coming out of university and I’d been made redundant. We were both struggling for money, so we couldn’t just drop everything and concentrate on music. So many people out there rely on the bank of mum and dad and we didn’t have that. But we did have things like advances on releases which you wouldn’t get now. So would we have made samples and tutorials? I don’t know. And truthfully? I genuinely don’t think I’m good enough to!
Sshhh now! You don’t think you’re good enough?
I don’t think so, no. And to be honest I don’t know where to start. I don’t use sample packs.
That’s probably why you should make one! What is your day job, anyway?
I basically work in anti-money-laundering.
Interesting. Like fraud stuff? You’re a crime solver!
It always sounds more interesting than it really is.
Defo sounds interesting. I’m not sure I could look at people’s bank balances when they’re crazy loaded and I’m crazy skint. How do deal with that?
It’s not always easy but you have to be professional and remove politics from it all. I’m very left leaning politically so I do feel a bit of a hypocrite at times when I’ve always worked in the financial industry but I need to do something to earn a living!
Absolutely! It’s a job that you can just leave at 5pm and not think about – giving you time to focus on your creative interests
Yeah. It doesn’t enter my mind much when I’m working on music. I guess music is much more likely to enter my mind when I’m working. I like it like this. There’s a lot of people out there that might work in the music industry in a design job or marketing or label management or whatever and they’re also trying to make music, DJ, do their thing. And I’m not sure I could be so heavily involved in everything so much, you know?
That’s why I stopped making music! It was either pursue music making or continue with my job as a music journalist. When you’re making music, you’re listening to it from an analytical producer but that wasn’t helpful as a journalist.
Cause you lose that passion. If you can’t speak passionately about music, then why write about it?
Yeah you’ve got it in one. So how about this new EP of yours? Tell me everything.
Well Doc Scott has been a big supporter of None60 over the years. We always get good feedback and he’s always played stuff on his shows. But yeah, I sent him a few things just for his opinion really. Not even as demos. He said, ‘Yeah I’d love to have a Hobzee EP on 31.’ I hadn’t even considered the prospect of that!
Was you just asking his advice, just talking to him as a peer?
Yeah. He said, ‘Send me all the tracks you’ve got and I’ll go through them.’ There were four ones that he definitely wouldn’t have heard before and those were the ones he wanted. Coincidentally, another couple of labels took the tracks that he didn’t want.
So I ended up with a whole load of releases being pencilled in.
Go on. Does that include the Goldfat release, too?
Yeah it does. I’m going to send them more music. They’re a really good label that are doing good things, you know. Aura was an interesting track. That was with Uneven.
Tell me more about Uneven.
So that’s one half of Jaskin & Uneven who did a few None60 EPs with us. They’re quite autonomic sounding, but, a little like myself, they do the older sort of atmospheric and liquid stuff as well. They always liked the Hobzee and Zyon Base stuff and said our music was a bit of an early influence for them, which is quite interesting. You know, to think that for some people out there, our music might have been the first time they heard music like that.
Totally understandable. You came through and made an impact at an exciting time!
Yeah. A few of us came through round then. Lenzman, Eveson, Soul Intent, Ed Oberon, Submorphics. It’s quite interesting to see all the different directions we’ve gone in. Yeah, so it was a natural step to work with Uneven. There’s more coming with Uneven on Warm Communications actually.
Are you working on more?
Yeah, I’ve always got stuff on the go at the moment. I’m enjoying the process right now. It’s great being part of a duo and there will be more Silent Dust music to come and I’m sure there will be the odd Zyon Base cameo, but I like having this solo output. Dan is very busy with his work and life but I’ve still got a bit of fight left in me to kind of try and make an impact somewhere in the music world.
As I said earlier, having now learned more about production, I can have a bit more confidence when I’m, when I’m working on stuff. When you’re in a duo it’s quite easy to think, ‘Oh they’ll sort that out,’ or, ‘They’ll add something or make this special.’ But when you’re on your own it forces you to do things differently. That’s why a lot of music’s been finished recently and I’m still learning. Which is always good!
01. Wyman – First Vassal (Hobzee Remix) (Forthcoming Smooth ‘n’ Groove)
02. Robert Manos and Bigchoc – Memories (Fokuz)
03. Hobzee, Zyon Base and Brother – 125th Street (Fokuz/none60)
04. DRS, Tyler Daley and Calibre – I Remember (Footnotes)
05. Zyon Base – Ghetto Blues (DSM)
06. Hobzee – Something Sleeps (Forthcoming Smooth ‘n’ Groove)
07. Voyager – Hypersleep (97 Revamp) (R&S)
08. Mineral – Where Do The Sounds Come From (Straight Up Breakbeat)
09. Sam Binary feat Deviant – Teodoro Nights (The North Quarter)
10. Seba – Interstellar (Secret Operations)
11. Shadow Club – Duality (Forthcoming Resonance)
12. Justice – Aquisse (Basement Records)
13. Lemon D – Urban Style Music (Metalheadz)
14. Infader – Blunt Tool (Straight Up Breakbeat)
15. Eschaton & Woken Balance – Things Ahead (Omni Music)
16. Hobzee & Zyon Base – One Thousand Paper Cranes (Samurai/none60)
17. Hobzee – In The Dark (31 Recordings)
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