JDNB Interview - Muted Hue
Muted Hue Interview
Featuring four sublime productions, one of which is a hefty dancefloor-ready remix from fellow up-and-comer Invert Era, ‘Parting Ways’ offers a glimpse into the versatility of Muted Hue’s capabilities. From the title track’s ability to weave a beautiful narrative with the heartfelt vocals of Bazil MC, to the deep, indulgent vibe of ‘Horizons’ – a track packing a serious punch in its bassline. ‘Parting Ways’ has even been given the green light from the ultimate liquid D&B don LSB, whose track ‘Roots’ inspired Muted Hue to recruit Bazil MC in the first place. If that isn’t as certified as a blue tick on your socials then we don’t know what is…
Hailing from Australia, this promising new producer gives us an insight to his past, childhood and present, and what he is looking forward to the future! Signed to Onyx, we find out more about the new "Parting Ways EP" that's just dropped and more.......................
Thanks for taking time out to chat to us and big up on your latest release on Onyx!
Thanks for having me on! I feel very fortunate to have grown up in Australia, my Father migrated here from Malaysia when he was a teenager and met my Mother who lived in rural Australia, they ended up getting married the day his Visa expired. It’s very relaxed here, especially in the small city of Adelaide. But we still have a very strong arts and music culture here which I’m grateful to be a part of. Especially in the Drum & Bass scene, there’s a really great community of young and old who all come together given how niche the genre is here in Australia.
You love the piano. Did you learn to play it to a certain grade and what is it you love about it?
I only did graded AMEB practical and theory exams up to Grade 4, however that was over 10 years ago now. I still play a lot of classical piano (such as Chopin, Debussy, Liszt are some of my favourite composers), but I nowadays I spend a lot of time writing my own music. What I love about the piano is how beautiful the sound is, and how it can take your mind away from everything when you’re deep into piece. For someone with an overactive mind, I find it very meditative and relaxing.
How old were you when you first discovered dnb music and where were you and tell us about Cody Moore.
I first discovered Drum & Bass at the age of 15 with my mate Cody – we had I.T. (Information Technology) class together, and we’d basically spend every lesson on Youtube / UKF not doing any work and instead discovering new music. We were pretty much the only kids listening to the stuff at the time. We were both previously into heavy music genres like hardcore, deathmetal – then eventually transitioned into dubstep, and later on Drum & Bass, through influences of artist like Noisia, Calyx & Teebee and Audio. Cody went more down the DJ route and became a local promoter, whilst I went down the more production route. To be honest I think I first heard Rusko through 4chan and that’s what set me off to explore Dubstep / Drum & Bass.
You played guitar in a band at 15 right?
Prior to delving into Electronic Music, I played in various hardcore bands in my local city of Adelaide. I think I actually played my first show when I was 13 (my band mates were a few years older), but that certainly help me develop my interest in recording music and editing with DAWs. I’ll probably regret sharing this but here’s video evidence of one of my first shows-
I left home at 16, you left home at 17, and knowing how tough it is living on your own at such a young age, would you like to elaborate on that and how music has kept you going?
It was certainly a challenge being so young, I learned a lot of life lessons very quickly. But I also embraced having the freedom to spend my free time how I chose, which meant I spent a lot of time producing music. However it wasn’t until years later that I had finally acquired the gear and experience to release label-quality music. The hardest realisation is that after you spend your time and energy on work commitments, chores, etc. you have very little left in the tank to spend on your recreation. Work-life balance is something I’ve had to learn over the years (and am still learning til this day).
At 23 you had a record deal with Onyx, you must of been stoked?
I was absolutely stoked when Chris Wickens (the founder) first approached me – it was really challenging as an Australian producer to try and infiltrate the UK market. But Chris and the team have been extremely supportive and have always put the quality of music first before anything, which aligns very much with my attitude towards music. Hopefully this is the first of many more releases with the label.
Tell us about some of your favourite labels in dnb and some of your favourite artists?
Admittedly my tastes are constantly changing, however I would say I’m mostly into the UK liquid and Deep side of drum & bass nowadays. My favourite labels would have to be Critical Music, 1985 Music, Integral and North Quarter (to name but a few!) From the liquid side of things, I absolutely rate LSB, Dawn Wall, SATL and more recently Redeyes. Then more on the deep side, Halogenix, Monty and Ivy Lab. I also really rate the vocals of DRS and Degs, and how they’re able to switch between melodies and flows.
Tell us about the tattoo documentary!
So back in 2016 I had a mate who is a videographer hit me up about a documentary he was filming for a local tattoo studio in Adelaide. I had done some SFX / music editing before for short films through an International Art Collective called SlashTHREE, but this was my first fully fledged series where I made and edited all the music. It was a fairly huge task, but I really enjoyed being able to create “background” style music to fit a certain mood that wasn’t dance music per se. It really took a different approach to my writing, and I ended up using a lot of tools and techniques in my DAW that I wouldn’t normally use.
You’re 25 now, but have had releases under different aliases. Has your heart always been in dnb or do you just love good music?
To be perfectly honestly I just love it all haha, but Drum & Bass is easily my favourite and my go-to. If it’s good music it’s good music. So many genres (especially Drum & Bass) sample each other and are influenced by each other, I feel like you’d be restricting yourself by only listening to Drum & Bass. I get bored of rinsing the same BPM and rhythm, so I will have stints where I listen to other genres for weeks, such as rap, prog house, psy trance, synthwave, future bass etc. the list goes on. Then I eventually come back to dnb when there’s some newer releases out. I think the most unique and interesting Drum & Bass are those tracks that quite clearly take sounds, elements, ideas from other genres and reinvent them into the dnb bpm.
Tell us about your day to day life, what you do and tell us something funny that no one might know. (Elaborate on Hotel work job etc)
Currently I work as a Creative Director for an advertising/marketing agency. We mainly work on various venues in Adelaide such as hotels, bars, restaurants and more recently a pizza joint. I do all the branding/graphic design for our clients but also help with our Digital Marketing and organising events too. When I go home I spend a lot of time doing freelance graphic design, video editing and also a lot of time playing piano. Something funny about myself – I have a small gargoyle statue on my desk instead of a desk plant because I know I can’t keep one alive lol.
Tell us about your studio set up and what's in your lab.
My studio is a humble bedroom set-up, however I have taken where I rent into consideration and made sure I have a sizable room with decent acoustics. It’s pretty much a studio with a bed in the corner. I run Cubase 9.5 Pro on a self-built machine. I’ve got a pair of Adam A7Xs running through a Scarlett 18i20 interface. In terms of outboard gear I’ve got MicroKorg, a Casio PX-S3000, an FMR RLNA plus a few old, shitty compressors from ebay. My housemate however has a Grandmother Moog and a Sledge which I borrow from time to time, and I use almost exclusively Slate digital plug-ins on my mixes.
Your debut drum and bass release was with our friends over at Boey in 2018, Evergreen. You are clearly into your chilled liquid vibes, but you love your filthy jump up too (Kiddah's Krakatoa) as you were a runner up in the Strictly DNB remix comp right? Tell us about remixes, do you prefer them or working on original stuff?As much as I love writing original music, I also really love doing remixes. My approach to music is having a sound-design session where I am simply creating and re-sampling banks of samples to use. When it comes to ‘making’ a track, I’m very much sample based and like to just drag and drop samples in (unless it’s piano based music)- I don’t like to get too bogged down in the sound design. The beauty of a remix is that all the building blocks are there, so I find it really fun to just go crazy and come up with a reimagination of the original. Due to my lack of free time, I find remixes much more manageable to actually finish and get released on a label as well (should have a few more out later this year).
And that Kiddah remix, that's done really well on your soundcloud right?
I was really stoked with how well I did in that competition, as I wasn’t really a known producer prior to that. But I guess people really resonated with the track and it happened to do really well organically on Soundcloud without having to promo it too much. It just goes to show if the quality of music is there, the rest will come.
This latest release is a liquid vibed EP and I love love love the first track with Bazil MC, tell us about that track, him and how you two linked up?
Cheers! We were both super happy with how it turned out. Basically my mate from Onyx Jack Stimpson sent me a tune which was ‘LSB – Roots ft. Kinross.’ I was really late getting onto LSB but I fell in-love with that track, I love the whimsical female vocals and conscious rapping on top of a liquid beat. I’m not sure who approach who, but Bazil MC is the rapper from that track and he got in talks with Jack saying he wanted to release more music. When I heard it was the vocalist from ‘Roots’, I pretty much went home that night and wrote the instrumental for ‘Parting Ways.’ I sent it onto Bazil and a couple days later he sent me a video of him rapping the first call-and-response hook. I knew straight away that this was the one and the rest was history!
Tell us about your favourite DJ gigs so far. (Adelaid dnb show)
I haven’t played a ton a gigs in Adelaide as I spend most my time producing instead of DJing hah. But as a patron one of my favourite gigs was Critical Music night that happened between 2014 – 2016 (my memory is hazy) at the old HQ Studio Room - Adelaide people will know what I’m talking about. It was a fairly intimate show but I remember it was just bangers after bangers in one of my favourite Adelaide clubs which no longer exists. I remember hassling Emperor for a selfie after the show which he reluctantly did (only because I was such a mess), I wish I had the evidence to share. I’ve also seen Noisia a couple times here and they’re incredible.
You were interviewed by VOE's vocalist on FreshFM, was that live and how do you find doing interviews, do you enjoy them as I know some people hate them!?
I’m fairly introverted which is why I don’t go out heaps or play heaps of shows. It’s a double-edged sword as I do love to talk about and share my music. In written format like this I feel much more comfortable, but I was super nervous being in the studio and live on air. Caroline was really nice and vibed my music which did help - it’s just something I need to continue to work on. In saying that I just had a 90 minute chat with Millstreet recently on his ‘Last Week Liquid’ Spotify podcast (go check it out) and I’ll be jumping onto Brighton’s Decadance radio next week to have a live chat about my EP.
Tell us about the Triple J airplay for people who may not know anything about that.
For those outside of Australia, Triple J is the national broadcaster and pretty much the radio station you want to aim to get your music heard on. We have an annual Triple J Hottest 100 which everyone in the country votes on and it’s fairly rooted in Australian culture. In saying that Drum & Bass isn’t very big as whole in Australia despite the niche communities in each city/state, which is why I’ve had to try and breakout into the UK scene.
So you were also interviewed for PHD thesis on electronic music production too right? What was that about it sounds sick?
Yeah that was another really interesting one! I played a show back in 2017 at cocktail bar called the Lotus Lounge. It was through FutureSounds which was a reoccurring event promoting upcoming producers in Adelaide. After I played my set, a guy called Paul hit me up and was really interested in my set and my music. We just got chatting, then he told me he was working on a PHD Thesis titled ‘People, Platforms, Practice: The Social Mediation of Electronic Music Production’. Later on we met up at a café and he interviewed me for the thesis which was really cool to be a part of. In his thesis he refers to me as “Thijs” for the moniker as I had told him Thijs from Noisia was one of the most influential producers for me as a musician.
Most recently you had a Skankandbass premiere in 2021? Sick... are you diggin' the love right now? (soundcloud link please) What do you see for your plan in the next 5 years?
Was absolutely gassed to finally get on the Skankandbass channel! I had discovered them in 2014 and they were a huge part of me developing my taste for the deeper, more underground sounds of Drum & Bass. It was pretty surreal to be honest. I had a massive break (3 years) between my last release, so my aim for the next 5 years is to really put more time into making and releasing good quality music. I’ve been writing a lot of piano based melodies in my time off and I’d love to release a full liquid album where I have a different vocalists featuring on each track.
If you could collab with anyone, who would you collab with and why?
Producer-wise it would have to be Halogenix, he’s just so crazy good at what he does and I’d love to pick his brain more than anything. Vocals-wise it’s my dream to do a track with DRS, his melody, flow, lyrics, vocal quality are all bang on. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be D&B either, ‘Umbrellas’ is one of my all time favourite tracks of his.
Clubs or festivals? Have you ever been out of Australia and if you came to the UK what would you look forward to most?
I’ve only been to Indonesia outside of Australia, but I aim to make it down to the UK eventually. It potentially would have happened sooner if not for COVID. But I’m really looking forward to finally meeting some of the amazing people and producers in the scene that I have been chatting and video calling for literally years. I’d love to check out all the amazing clubs, festivals and events that I’m constantly seeing on Social Media (and at times even helping promote). I’d also love to be around other producers more and collaborate/learn off them, which is something I’m restricted with living in Aus.
Beer or spirits?
I’m always down for a cheeky beer after (or during) work! But on a night out you’ll find me shamelessly double-parked on vodka raspberries.
Favourite up and coming artists in Australia right now?
There’s quite a few making moves at the moment, but goes without saying my Adelaide homies V O E are absolutely killing it at the moment with releases out on Viper, Liquicity and RAM. Quite a few Perth producers making serious moves like Esym, Confusious and Embr to new but a few.
What do you think of our www.jungledrumandbass.co.uk website?
I think it’s a great platform for discovering new music! I love reading the interviews and getting a bit more of a back-story behind some of the music you hear in Drum & Bass.
Lastly, any shouts and thanks?
Shoutout to Onyx and the team there for all the support they’ve given me, especially Jake Hirst for smashing the promo on this release. And a big thanks to my close friends (Mic, Jemma) who always keep pushing and supporting me even when I get self-doubt.
Thanks for your time and all the best for 2021 and beyond!
Interview by Missrepresent February 2021