This latest 1 More Mix edition is brought to you by Hugh Hardie… Fresh from the release of his new album Juicebox on Soulvent Records, this mix is sure to keep you on the tips of your toes and put that spring into your step.
Juicebox, Hugh’s third studio album, was released last month and in this interview we’re treated to intimate insights in the album making process where we find that it’s not all plain sailing. The dreaded but ever expected curse of writer’s block, collaborative challenges, even the choice of name proved to be slight stumbling blocks before the release.
Read on to find out more about the album and Hugh’s take on mix science as shares his thought process when preparing mixes and how they come together naturally. A free-flowing mixing style that he’s been showcasing on his debut US tour and on the festival stages over the summer, it’s a style just like this…
Creating his third studio album with Soulvent brought a real sense of friendship and togetherness as he proudly beams over this intimate family project, and so he should! With past releases on Liquicity and of course Hospital Records where he made a name for himself, Hugh Hardie is inspired by genres across the full musical spectrum and will soon be sinking his teeth back into the production process again.
So strap yourselves in and read on, you’re about to be taken on a joyous Juicebox journey…
Firstly, congratulations on the new album! How did Juicebox come together?
It’s my third studio album. I did two on Hospital and then I moved from there to Soulvent Records about two years ago and this was the first proper big project on the new label. It’s not quite a new label because Hospital and Soulvent have merged. So it’s been about a year and a half working on this album and it’s been fun for me because it’s been a bit different working with the Soulvent team as opposed to working more directly with Hospital.
Love it! So did you face any complications or challenges with this one at all?
There are always complications and challenges! Writers block is always challenging and complicated to avoid. There’s a lot of vocals on this album and we tried hard to set up lots of vocal sessions and that often leads to complications because it can hold things up. If I’m making an instrumental, it’s totally at my own pace and if I need to get it done quickly I can do that. But when you’re bringing in outside collaborative artists it can slow things down. The vocals worked out really well, there was a couple of tunes that we weren’t really sure about but we kept on pushing through with the vocalist and we broke certain hurdles. There was one that we thought had some really good potential but it was sort of rough on the early sketch and we were sort of like “oh shall we keep pushing for it?” and we did. It turned out to be one of my favourites on the album. So yeah, a lot of perseverance.
I feel you! Do you find it challenging being on exactly the same page as one another when you collaborate?
Kind of yeah. Because if I make a beat and I have an idea of how I want it to sound. But then also at the same it it’s exciting when you hear something a bit different. It does take me a while to get used to it because obviously you’re used to your own sketch that you’ve had in your headphones and then you get a vocal and you’re thinking, “Well that wasn’t quite what I was hearing.” But then you can get nicely surprised with it.
So why is the album called Juicebox? What’s the story behind that?
The funny thing is that there was a tune in the shared Dropbox folder where I was adding all my ideas for ages called Juicebox and I just kind of gave it that name without really thinking much about it and then I had always actually planned on changing the title of that tune. I did eventually change it and I had an A&R meeting with a few people from Soulvent and Hospital to just go over the ideas and someone in the meeting said, “Oh hold on, this one’s changed name. I really liked it It was called Juicebox.”
I said, “Yeah I don’t know really, it just felt a bit silly.” Then the feedback from that was along the lines of, “No, no, no. Change it back!” They thought that name had more impact and they liked it a lot. We were formulating a concept for the album where the initial idea was we were going to make an object for each tune and we started doing that. For the first single Blush we had this terrarium which was created and for the second single Face Off we made an animated mask and we actually 3D printed this mask and then the idea was like, every tune would have an object assigned and then the name of the album would encapsulate the world where these objects lived in and Juicebox seemed to fit in with that concept.
That’s quality! So you’ve got a clear love for the art of albums. Both of your LPs are really well considered, would you agree with that?
Yeah I think so. I listen to albums a lot and I like listening to them through, if there’s an album I really like I would have it on repeat. I bought a vinyl player a few years back and I’ve just been buying LPs and listening through them. I just love the art form of an album. So I try to just think of a concept for albums and it’s quite difficult to get that. But what I find is the further I get along into the writing process, the more clarity I get about forming a concept and when I do have more of a concept around an album I find that it’s really good motivation to have a bit more direction with it.
Now you’re one of the many success stories to come out of Hospital. But let’s talk Soulvent, do you have a specific role with them?
The different thing with Soulvent is it’s a much smaller team. So my role as an artist is different at Soulvent because the roster is smaller, which I really like. The guy who runs the label, Joe, we were friends before. We didn’t know each other super well but during this process we became much closer and I was speaking to him all the time, calling him and talking about tunes which was really great actually. The process with Soulvent was really good, there was a continuous dialogue and a lot of back and forth. With Hospital, they’re a really good support system but because the roster is so big, it’s hard to feel like you’re getting as much attention as you would like. So with Soulvent it was nice having like basically just me, Joe and Shaun who does the animation, we’ve got a group WhatsApp and because we’re all similar ages and we’re real friends now it was just a really fun process, which was sick. It’s like a matey family project!
Love it. So let’s talk about the mix! What have you got in store for us on this one?
It’s a little selection of some of the tracks I’ve been playing in the clubs recently mixed in with a healthy amount of new album stuff.
Do you plan your mixes around certain tracks or does it have more of a go with the flow feel?
I quite like going with the flow to be honest. It’s always freestyle DJing really. But I guess it’s kind of not because I’ve got tunes in my head that I know mix well together so I probably end up playing quite a lot of similar mixes. But generally I like to freestyle and see where it goes. Once you get to know the tunes really well, you have your safe places where you’re thinking, “Oh this one goes really well into this one” and there are little pockets of like ten tunes that will go really well together and you can do those in various orders. So this one will be bit more mellow because I play a bit harder in the clubs.
Do you have any other interests in genres outside of drum & bass?
I listen to a lot of hip-hop and rap, I’ve been into that from about the age of ten. That’s kind of my main listening genre I’d say. I do listen to drum & bass because I’m constantly looking for songs to DJ but if I’m chilling it’s just nice to switch off. If I listen to a hip-hop album, my brain isn’t trying to analyse it as much but if I listen to drum & bass I can’t switch myself off from trying to think about how they produced that tune and I go into work mode a little bit with it. I listen to a lot of different stuff, I like a lot of band stuff, other electronic music, a bit of garage, a bit of 140. Quite a wide range I’d say, I just like listening to new music and discovering new stuff.
That’s quite a range! So listening to and admiring multiple genres, does that inspire your productions in any way?
Yeah one hundred percent! You hear a lot of people say it’s good to draw inspiration from outside your own genre and I think that’s totally true. Whatever the genre is, if it’s a folk album for example, it can create a really amazing sense of emotion. It’s good motivation for me to try to create something that will have that sort of effect on a different kind of listener.
I love that! So what has your summer been like so far this year?
Yeah it’s been pretty good. Lots of shows which have been fun, some festivals which have been really great. I did Hospitality In The Woods last week which was absolutely awesome. Hospitality On The Beach in Croatia was really sick, too. I actually did my first US tour back in June as well and did three weeks hopping from state to state. That was the first time I’d been there to play.
D&B seems to have a growing presence over in the US, how did you find the scene over there?
The shows are quite intimate when you compare them to the UK. They do have big shows, but a lot of the time it was me as a headliner so not like huge lineups that are stacked with lots of big name DJs. All the shows over there were really fun and there is a really solid fanbase where we went. The people there were super into it, really energetic with good dancefloor energy! They were all really stoked on D&B, it was really cool. The scene does seem to be growing in recent years so hopefully we’ll see a continued trajectory of drum & bass action in the States.
So what’s the next year looking like for yourself? Anything special planned?
I really want to get back to the States because basically you buy a visa and it lasts for three years and it’s quite expensive so the name of the game with that one is to try and capitalise on your investment and go over a bunch if times. The first tour is pretty much trying to recoup the cost of that visa and the following times you will hopefully get into profit. I may go again this year as well. I’d really like to go and play in South Africa, I think that would be fun! So definitely a bit more travelling and international DJing for sure. Then I’ll definitely be getting back on the tunes. This album was released last month but I probably finished it around February or March of this year so I’ve had a nice break already. Over the last few weeks I’ve actually started firing up Ableton again and tinkering around with ideas so I’m looking forward to getting fully immersed back into full production mode, that’s very fun for me and how I keep myself motivated.