We teamed up with the online underground electronic music curators Watch The Hype and we are proud to present their very first Pacemaker mixtape.
The London-based curators are dedicated to focusing on forward-thinking artists, constantly supporting the latest and best in electronic music. We chatted a bit about their background and their involvement in the music scene and they also created an exquisite mixtape featuring some of the finest dub techno and dub reggae tracks by Moritz von Oswald, Rhythm & Sound, Pablo Bolivar, Claro Intelecto etc. You’re in for a special treat!
Who’s behind Watch The Hype, where are you guys based?
John: There are three of us main guys behind the platform – myself, Matt and Oli. I live in North-West London suburbs and Matt and Oli both live south of the city. We have a core family of five top music heads who write for us and run various features of our platform, and there are a number of other freelance contributors spread across the globe. All of us work from home on our laptops and have other jobs – it’s a pretty modest setup to be honest.
What’s your mission, tell us a bit about the birth of Watch The Hype and how you decided to launch your platform.
John: Our mission is to advocate social change through music, focusing on direct artist-led curation. Watch The Hype began as Oli’s humble university journalism project to aid his course and covered all styles of music. Matt joined, it became focused on electronic music and started to build a name for itself through our consistency in YouTube radio rips (primarily forward thinking UK techno and bass music). I met Matt at uni and we clicked on music terms instantly. Working together, the blog grew quickly and has continually evolved (and it’s still evolving) to become what it is today.
What is the most rewarding thing about running Watch The Hype?
John: I think I speak for all of us when I say being able to have genuine, involved conversations and even friendships with artists and heads in the scene we truly admire. It’s a wonderful community of people on the whole. Also, the ability to promote the music of friends and emerging talents is truly rewarding.
Oli: When people come up to you and say they’d first heard a track on our platform and haven’t stopped playing it since, or were introduced to an artist who they’ve really connected with and saw them live. I think music is incredibly powerful for a few reasons: therapeutically on a personal level; its potential to spread ideas and messages to large audiences; as well its ability bringing people together. It’s really nice to hear when our platform has been an initiator of that for people.
How did you get into music? Do you remember your first revelation when it comes to discovering something?
John: Now that is a hard question – for anyone. I can’t remember any specific moment in time, but I remember my first real influences came from my dad. Artists like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Steel Pulse and later the likes of Herbie Hancock, Steely Dan and many soul/disco records. I remember a specific revelation which transformed my taste during my first year of university: hearing Burial & Four Tet – Moth. That opened my eyes to dance music other than dubstep haha.
Matt: Like John, my earliest music related memories are with my Dad. When I was a kid he had a drop top car with a 6CD changer in the boot. I distinctly remember loading up albums from artists like Moby, The Prodigy and Royksopp, then blaring them out as we cruised about. I still listen to Moby and Royksopp actually, that music was and still is a big influence on me. In terms of the style of music I am into now, I have to credit Fabric in London. A couple of mates and I went there for the first time when I was 19 and I was blown away. I remember feeling like I had unlocked a whole world of music that I wasn’t aware of. My interest and involvement with the scene spiraled from there.
Oli: My mum always tells me the story of her playing music to me when she was pregnant, like putting the headphones up to the ‘bump’. Rumours have circulated that it’s suppose to make the child smarter, but I think that’s all lies… I can’t really remember that so I guess music started becoming a big part of my life when I got my first walkman. I was the age when you wanted a CD just cause it says ‘Explicit’ on the cover, and you wore bolts jeans with at least one chain. I was listening to a lot of Korn, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit etc. Then a year or so later, I moved to America and became obsessed with hip hop and rap, specifically D12, 50 Cent, Timberland’s productions. From then my music taste has become incredibly eclectic, listening to a huge range in genres on a weekly basis and trying to keep my mind open to different sounds and conceptual ideas within music.
You’re curating tons of great music for your readers but how do you discover music yourself?
John: From as long as I can remember and to this day, recommendations from friends. Now, a combination: primarily record stores; a few of the main publications; artist charts and mixes; and good old YouTube.
Matt: I’ve found a ridiculous amount of music from radio shows, in particular Hessle Audio on Rinse FM. Radio is a great platform for DJs to showcase a much wider spectrum of their taste. I’ve found many quirky, leftfield tracks that I would probably have never have heard in a club.
Oli: A lot of my time is spend YouTube and Soundcloud hopping, as well as IDing tracks at events and word of mouth.
Who are your favourite artists at the moment?
John: DJ Sotofett, Mark Ernestus, Lena Willikens, Kendrick Lamar. These are my sounds right now.
Matt: In terms of DJs: Ron Morelli. I saw him at Oval Space the other day and I couldn’t believe the sounds that were coming out of the speakers. Objekt has also been amazing to watch.
Oli: J Cole (the man is a god), Call Super, Skee Mask, Project Pablo. I’m also really into Jóhann Jóhannsson, an Icelandic composer who’s done a lot of soundtracks. His most recent work is the score for Arrival, which I thought was outstanding.
Do you have a favourite album cover?
John: Donato Dozzy & Nuel – Aquaplano Sessions. There’s beauty in simplicity.
Matt: That’s a tough one. I wouldn’t want to pick a favourite without going through my entire collection of music, which would be a bit of an ordeal. Of the top of my head, I think meandyou Manchester have got their art pretty spot on.
Oli: Probably Bonobo’s North Borders. I think artwork is almost as important as the music (contradictory of Omar S’s views). It’s what conveys the message of the music into picture (as well as music videos). I guess more relevant to vinyl and CD than any other medium, but it is the first thing a lot of people see before they actually play a track.
How do you like Pacemaker? What are your favourite features and what would you like to add or improve?
John: I had a lot of fun creating that first mix (Watch The Dub). Pacemaker’s mixing ability is pretty damn good, even though I threw some mixed tempo curveballs at it. The platform is neat and intuitive, and users are uploading some great music – but that’s expected with heads like you lot behind it! One thing I did find limiting was the inability to start a track when you like. It seems you can cut one to finish but not decide when a track starts (I appreciate this has something to do with the way it programmes the mix, but perhaps being able to select the rough area a track starts might be a bonus?).
On the whole it’s great for two reasons. The first being the ability for any non-DJ to be able to make a neat mixtape for journeys, parties or whatever. The second, it’s a great little tester for DJs to find out what tracks might work together while you’re on the move! (Although you won’t be finding any of your dubplates on Spotify of course…).