Interview: Underworld, re-presented

Interview: Underworld, re-presented

It’s such a pleasure to have been able to sit down with Underworld co-frontman Karl Hyde, one of the most influential, long-standing, and successful electronic acts in the past twenty years. The duo has a brand new album which has just hit the shelves called “Barking” which is out world-wide right now. You can click here to choose your favorite regional storefront. It’s, as Karl says, their “newest incarnation”, but also an incarnation full of familiar faces along with the new.
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Listen to the full interview here
[audio:http://freshproduceonline.com/blog/audio/interviews/underworld_barking_10-01-10.mp3|titles=Interview: Underworld, re-presented]
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Karl, thank you so much for coming on the show today to talk with us.
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Ah, no, please. It’s a pleasure!
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So the track we’re going to be featuring on the show today, “Always Loved a Film,” is kind of your full album in a nutshell – vocals from Karl, production from Rick and some attached producers backing that; in this case Brits Mark Knight and D. Ramirez. My question would be, what was the genesis behind this single, and how has that compared to the final product?
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Well, with this album, we wrote live on the road, you know, really as a reaction to the last album which gave us very little in the way of new material that we could add to the live show. So, Rick and I started writing new material and developing it on the road in front of live audiences as we were touring the last album. So, a track like “Always Loved a Film” was developed out of the kind of way that we play live, the response off the audience, and the desire to make music of celebration.
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That’s absolutely fascinating. Kind of going along with that, this whole thing was put together in a somewhat unique way, the two of you, like you said on the road writing things, and then you shipped those off to collaborators.
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Yeah.
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How have you two found collaborating through correspondance versus sitting down in the studio together with these individuals?
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There were several ways that the collaborations happened on this record. Again, with Mark Knight and Dean (D.) Ramirez, they were in the studio with Rick. Uh, with High Contrast, we went to Whales and spent a little bit of time in his studio. And with other people like Dubfire, we played together a couple times on the road, so we could talk. Others, like, uh, Paul van Dyk we didn’t meet at all and everything was done by third parties, and the internet. But all of them, all them you know, really took on the idea, the concept, that Rick sent out there, which was are you up for a jam? Not a remix, but the idea of passing music backwards and forwards. We’d like to hear it through your ears and see ourselves through your eyes, and are you up for the idea of hearing it re-presented back to you, and this kind of call and response going on for a while. And they all were. It was really inspiring.
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Was there anyone on that list who you were working with for the first time, I know you mentioned Paul van Dyk? And beyond that, any particular tracks that wound up as the most surprising or your favorites?
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[laughing] Wow. That’s…they all had their own level of surprise. Uh, working with Lincoln [Barrett] who’s High Contrast, that was a track. We did “Scribble” which was a big Drum ‘n Bass track that Rick had created that we were touring for about three years that was really going down really well with a completely different vocal and quite a different vibe really. You know, quite fierce Drum ‘n Bass track. Sent it off to Lincoln, Lincoln sent back something which just sounded very different. Fantastic. And sounded like a great instrumental. And then Rick turned around and said “You know what? Try singing a completely different vocal. A new melody. Write a new lyric, you know? And let’s send it back to Lincoln and see what he does.” And that was a great dialogue.
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Something like, um,  “Diamond Jigsaw” was a track that was…started off really as a, like in my head, as a fusion between Keith Richards and Neu!, you know. Keith Richards goes to Dusseldorf. [laughing] And it was, it was going well on-stage, but Rick and I would look at each other afterwards and go like “you know what? this just doesn’t sound like Underworld.I don’t know what it is.” Sent it off to Paul van Dyk, and the very first thing he even sent back to us, we looked at each other and said “this sounds like Underworld. I don’t know how he did it, but this sounds like Underworld.”
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Well that’s awesome. You know, my next question is for you Karl: you always seem to have a unique style built into your lyric-writing, [Karl laughs] a style that spans quite a career now. My question would be, where do you find yourself going for inspiration and is that something that has changed for you over the years?
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Where do I find myself going? Largely cities. Gatherings. Large gatherings of people, because that’s where most of the raw material is. Listening to conversations, watching people, seeing what they do, seeing how they interact between each other. And, and painting the pitcure of where they are and what’s going on. And imaginary scenarios with these tantalizing little overheard fragments of conversation that kind of allude to all kinds of magical things that are going on in their world and are probably extremely mundane but, you know, I manage to subvert them in some way. Those are still largely the places that excite me.
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And trains. You know, travelling is still a big inspiration. There’s something about momentum and, in particular, trains. There’s a huge romance attached to trains, you know. Whether it’s the age of steam, you know, or just getting on a huge train journey and kind of seeing all these out of the way stops, you know, in the middle of nowhere.
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Aboslutely, yeah, kind of passing the world through a bubble.
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Yeah. And it all starts to turn into a Sam Shepard play, which I’m really quite fond of. [laughing]
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As expected with the album release, the tour diary with the two of you guys is pretty packed for the next several months. What are some higlights on there and are there any gigs in particular you look forward to, or that you always look forward to?
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Um, that is a tough one, because you know, my answer is going to sound incredibly diplomatic, but it’s the truth. And the truth is, Rick and I look forward to walking out on stage. And that’s the bottom line, because the job that we do, and the band that we’re in, has 99.9% of the time such amazing responses from the audience that walking out on stage at an Underworld gig is electrifying. You know that something special is going to happen just in terms of what’s going to come back from the audience.
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Um, there are alot of places in the world that we think, “oh wow” you know, “it’s nice to be here” because the city is a little unusual or the audience is particularly, um, energetic shall we say, you know? [laughing] There are places like California which have become kind of another home for us. Or New York, you know, and those places where you go and kind of go “this is like playing to a home crowd.” Other places like Scotland which, you know, just sort of seems to be our home crowd even though we live in London. And then you come home to London and you expect cynicism because it’s a capital city that’s seen it all, and you get this incredible richness of warmth. Which is also what we experience in a city like New York where you would expect cynicism because they’ve seen it all. You know, it’s kind of a remarkable band to be in, and appear to meet and attract these people who are just so vibrant, and warm, and and up for good energy, you know? And that’s why I really like being in this band.
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Well it sounds like you enjoy what you do.
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It’s a pretty good job. [laughing]
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My last question for you would be: there have been several MK’s alongside the “Underworld” moniker as you’ve added and subtracted pieces.
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Yeah.
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Does this most recent effort count as another, and which number are we on?
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Feels like it to me. Feels like another one. Well, it’s definitely the most recent incarnation of the band. It feels like moving on. Uh, yeah. You know, I think the jury’s out on which number it is [laughing]…you know, 4…5, 6. Um, I don’t know. It’s familiar territory, but um…I don’t know. The lovely thing about this incarnation of the band that I remember is during the first rehearsals turning ’round expecting to see a completely different group that had invited me to sing with them. And I turn ’round and I see there’s Rick, and there’s Darren [Emerson], and I’m thinking [chuckling], this is fantastic, you know, it’s like everything I would hope. It’s like, as I say, being invited to play in a new group, but it’s with my dear friends. And, um, wanting them visit. Yeah, good question! Let’s put that out to the web, see what comes back! [laughing]
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Asbolutely, will do.
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Thanks, man!
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Well Karl, thank you so much for sitting down to speak with us. Please keep on innovating and reinventing yourselves out there. It’s absolutely been a pleasure.
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Hey, thank you. I really thank you for your support.
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Karl Hyde; gentleman and a rockstar. The album is called “Barking”, it’s out now in stores everywhere. You can visit their website at www.underworldlive.com for information on where to get it. Fresh Produce is a product of friskyMedia, a division of Frisky, LLC. Thanks for reading.