HYBRID MINDS are setting the drum and bass scene alight right now and breaking down it’s boundaries with their emotive, imaginative musical style.
From on stage proposals between the lovebirds at their shows, to being the background sound to couples walking down the aisle – their signature style is racking up millions of streams and capturing the hearts and minds of music lovers around the world and for very good reason.
Just before they hit the road this week to start their forthcoming Outline tour schedule, we welcome them to provide us with some insight on their magical formula and tell us about their story so far…
Hi Matt and Josh, thanks for taking the time out to chat. We are well into February already, how has the start of the new decade been for you and is 2020 off to a flying start already?
Josh: Hello mate, well we have been in the studio working on new music whilst Matt has been taking care of a month of gigs for us and now we are both preparing for our upcoming ‘Outline’ tour which starts with the opening show in Manchester this week. We are really excited about it, so we have just been rehearsing non-stop and getting everything ready for that.
Then just now, there’s been a spate of festivals announcing our upcoming appearances over the coming months ahead which are all totally crazy, so we are just enjoying whats left of the calm before the storm that’s definitely about to kick off! So yeah, we are really looking forward to a very busy summer!
Matt: Yep, as Josh said we know this is going to be our busiest year yet, so we are trying to squeeze in as much studio time as possible but its becoming more and more difficult as time rolls on. Right now we are doing rehearsals and all the prep work to fine tune our set for the tour to make sure it is the best it can be. It’s definitely the calm before the storm right now and we are massively hyped.
As you have mentioned, your biggest UK tour to date, ‘Outline’ starts next week, how’s it all going?
Josh: Well it’s going to be a two hour set from us with the vocalist Charlotte Haining and MC Tempza performing live on each show. We have been working really hard on the production so we can take it up a level, especially for the Printworks show in London and of course each date throughout the tour so it’s just going to be incredible. We have got some very special guests coming down to join us that we can’t speak too much about, but its definitely set to be the highlight of our year – just like our first tour was when we did the four week residency at London’s Phonox in 2019 which was mind-blowing!
Matt: Yeah, last year was us testing the water, whereas this year we really wanted to go the extra mile and add production value to it, and just level it up pretty much to enhance the whole experience and push everything as far as possible.
With these huge headline shows up and down the country, from Brighton to Birmingham and everywhere in between, you are on fire right now – with London’s Printworks sold out months in advance, there is no stopping you both, how are you feeling about it all?
Matt: Selling out the Printworks is truly insane, I’ve only played there once but it was fantastic and I cant wait to go back.
Josh: I was away in New Zealand at the time so I haven’t played there myself yet so I am particularly looking forward to it, especially as the venue has such a strong schedule for drum and bass, it’s so amazing to be included amongst it all with our Outline show and to sell it out as headliners in the time we did, well its been a bit nuts to say the least.
We have been sort of bricking it and equally excited, so we are just working hard on it to make sure it will be worth the people coming to watch us over or as well as the other incredible shows they have on there at the venue. That tends to be our approach – to panic!!!
Matt: We are definitely our own worst critics, I mean we are pretty harsh on ourselves with everything to be honest. We put the whole selling it out thing down to luck, but I think that’s because we can’t apply a science to why it sold out so quickly, it is just too much to comprehend!
Josh: It spurs you on to put the work in which is really important, like if we were really blasé about the whole thing then we would probably kick back and then the shows might not be as good unless we work on them relentlessly and give everything our all, it seems to be the way that things work and hopefully it will pay off and the panic will be unnecessary in the end.
Matt: I think that show sold out in a single day and it really is beyond us how that was even possible, I mean you get so many stacked lineups there – for us to do it on our own merit, well… it just… I mean… well, I don’t think it will ever sink in, it hasn’t yet and it won’t I am sure. We are incredibly proud of that and so grateful to everyone who has made it possible.
Josh: It was like scoring the winning goal of the FA cup when that sold out, it was around Halloween time or something, it was just absolutely mental that day. The whole day was a sheer repetition of reloading ticket pages in total disbelief!
Yeah that is really very impressive, what an achievement! Looking back to how this all began for a moment, you have been a combined force for well over a decade now, and with each of your backgrounds in the more upfront sounds of jump up – in brief how did you guys meet and how did your individual characteristics mesh initially and how do they surface beside each other in the Hybrid Minds sound?
Josh: Well when we first started combining our efforts, Matt had the ability to make music that I didn’t. I’d never opened up any music making software before to any serious degree and I had a bit more of an interest in the liquid sound than Matt did but he was still Dj’ing it a bit.
I suppose with me coming in to it from that angle and with the addition of Matt’s technical ability, I encouraged him to make a tune with me on more of a liquid tip than usual is probably how our first project together began to evolve.
Matt: I remember at the time, I was going through a bit of a lull with the whole idea of upfront drum and bass as it was going through a bit of a stagnant period and it was about the same sort of time I met Josh.
He showed me the stuff he liked and he had a lot of knowledge, especially in terms of acoustic music which was a big influence coming through him and we decided to make a track together. I thought why not, maybe try doing something else you might enjoy doing because at the time, in my mind it was a bit of a downward spiral doing the upfront thing and I wasn’t really getting anywhere with it anyway.
I’d sit there trying to make something upfront and end up just playing keys off of a piano which I suppose was a telltale sign that my heart wasn’t fully in the direction I was trying to go in. So Josh came along and he had a lot of knowledge when it came to musical influences from outside drum and bass and I suppose that was the factor which really triggered my interests.
Even to this day Josh will draw my attention to new artists he has found and I’m like yeah – I really like that and overtime we have found a shared love of a certain type of music and it seems to work.
Ok, so with those shared aspects you have outlined – are there certain production elements each of you tends to focus on during the creative process that you eventually combine together or do you have a mutual idea that you nurture between you?
Matt: I suppose it can be quite different from track to track actually.
Josh: Yeah, it varies quite a lot doesn’t it.
Matt: Yes definitely, I mean there was a point when we didn’t really know what we were about full stop haha! We were sort of just making anything and we lacked an identity which I suppose we have since carved out over time. Now we sort of know what we are doing, we don’t want to regurgitate things and like to keep evolving everything but we now have a direction in our heads where we aim at along with different things we want to try, different singers we want to work with and so on, so it is good when we are in agreement in those areas.
Josh: Technically, when it comes down to who does what – we’re at a place now where we both just try ideas out, most of which may then end up sitting in a pot for ages but eventually we’ll then pick up one and start developing it in to a more refined product. I’ll go “oh I like this” on a piano loop Matt has made and then between us, we work on things back and forth until we are closer to what we are looking for musically and then progress it from there.
Matt: We both do the same jobs essentially, one week Josh might be working on a mix down and the following week I might be. It really just depends on whats going on, but its very much a shared workload when it comes to that sort of thing.
Clearly, vocal performance is one of the fundamental aspects of the Hybrid Minds phenomenon, whilst deep, melodic musicality provides the infrastructure – where does the emotional context of your music emerge from?
Josh: I’m not quite sure because it is quite hard to pinpoint it, however when we hear something that gives us a certain feeling, then we sort of just know when its a goer of a track. We just ‘know’ that its an idea worth pursuing to the end, but how that vibe is created, then I don’t know, I couldn’t tell you! Perhaps it’s the chord progressions, the atmospheres and those things that give us that feeling.
Matt: There’s plenty of progressions we find that are nice, but just end up in the bin a lot of the time because they just haven’t got that extra something else we are always looking for. It has to have that ‘something’ about it that really stands out and hits the spot. There’s been plenty that really sound good but just lack that extra fibre we are looking for and without it, we know it won’t be worth taking any further.
We always try and make sure it has that emotional depth that we can feel and we are very adamant about that in each case, no matter what. We need to feel something magic about it and we are very ocd about that too, it needs to stand up on its own with it’s own character, like a soul value and that is essential.
Josh: Yeah if it lacks that passion coming through the music, then it’s not really achieving anything for us.
Matt: I think a lot of people look to our tracks for that quality actually, like it’s become our signature!
You have said that you find the best results occur when the singer / songwriter you are working with jams to the music you have written, as they establish a natural relationship with it as the project progresses. So, is it sometimes the case that this could change the direction of the music you have written, or possibly the overall sentiment?
Josh: Sometimes we will get a vocal back that we didn’t expect and we might not be fully in to it initially, but after a while and having taken some time to come back to it later on, it turns out that we absolutely love it! But yeah, there has definitely been cases where that’s happened.
Generally, once an instrumental is ready, we use vocalists we already have in mind based on what they do so we have a good idea of how they will interpret the musicality and add their take to it. But then there are times where we will include a vocalist in the writing process from the start which definitely dictates where the track goes when you start it with a vocal and a chord progression and everything else is built around that.
A good example of this is our Supernova track which featured Catching Cairo who used to be called Tiffany Juno who sung on tracks like Secret Place like on our last album. She’s really creative and does things in her own, really abstract ways which originally take you by surprise because you don’t expect them, but them often end up being our favourite tracks where she has done something so cool and different with them.
Matt: Yeah it does really change the whole dynamic of a track in such cases and it will take us some time to adjust where we might have been working on an instrumental with our own vision in our head and then the singer totally turns it on its head in a way we hadn’t even thought about. We always leave it for a few days and then come back to it and usually love it.
We think its a really good and healthy way of working, so we don’t usually restrict anyone when it comes to that sort of stuff, just let them crack on. If there’s some bits we don’t like we will tell them and make some adjustments but we see it very much like a totally collaborative thing and thats where we get the best results through a collective evolution.
Josh: That’s the best thing about working with amazing vocalists, they do their thing and have their own interpretation of a track and add their own magic to it, and bring it to life.
The enormous popularity of your tracks is ever apparent, it is clear you have transcended the Drum and Bass scene and caught the mainstream’s attention without jeopardising your sound or creative principles, why do you think this is? How has your music managed to touch so many people?
Josh: Nice pun!! Haha! I think it must be the way that our sound has developed, I mean it has gone more in the direction of song structure which is obviously something that makes our music more accessible than a neuro banger and I’ve always joked about it but, we make drum and bass that you can play to your parents haha!
We get it a lot at shows when people will say “your music got my mum into drum and bass” and things like that.
Matt: It really does happen a lot you know, people will say “my mum loves you” or “here’s a video of my mum dancing to your tracks”
Josh: We get lots of people wanting to propose at our shows and people sending us clips of them walking down the aisle to our music so it must just be the emotional attachment we manage to capture in to our tracks and the musicality of it. Even though it is drum and bass tempo and not a million miles away from other liquid drum and bass artists, I think it is our structure and I suppose the sound we have developed naturally over time. We have managed to put our stamp on it to make it sound like Hybrid Minds with all the hallmarks of our own identity.
We used to care so much about impressing our peers in the drum and bass scene and the people we looked up to, staying true to the principles of the music as we saw them and trying to uphold them in our production, however it was only when we stopped caring and being so tough on ourselves that we really began to develop our own unique style and found the most pleasing results.
It’s like we removed that burden of pressure we placed on ourselves as producers and instead we got more comfortable doing our own thing and thats where we started to see the rewards and in the process, we revealed our own identity and everything really started to flow.
Matt: You know, we both just wanted to set out to do our thing, do something we enjoy and hopefully make some sort of living out of it and nothing more, we just love it that much and wanted to be part of it. But now, its become quite a regular thing that we have these moments where we look at each other and are just like “what the f*ck is going on!?” It’s genuinely so hard for us to get our heads around where the music has taken us, its incredible and blows us away.
We are still in a state of disbelief at the moment, I mean some of the festivals we are doing this year and the opportunities that are coming up – it’s just insane, it really is!
I think that’s the beauty of drum and bass in general you know, its so varied and there’s so much depth to it – there’s just something for everyone and so much going on and we are so grateful to everyone who believes in us and shows us so much support, I genuinely don’t think we will ever get our heads around whats been happening.
Even my grandad likes a few of our tracks, its such a varied genre of music with so much going on under the hood, there really is something for everybody!
What does the future for drum and bass look like from your perspective?
Josh: Well of course right now with everything we have lined up already, I don’t want to look too far ahead but really I hope it stays where it is and just continues to grow, I mean Boomtown, Let It Roll and festivals like that or Chase and Status doing huge shows in London like theirs recent one at the Drumsheds – it’s just enormous and the quality of the music just keeps getting better and better and it is so exciting. Ten thousand capacity warehouses, you know its just madness! Can it get any bigger? Would it be any better if it did get any bigger? Would we have more Rudimental style live groups? I don’t know?
Matt: Andy C at Wembley for Gods sake!!!
Josh: Yeah exactly, I feel like its now as established as any other genre of music and isn’t going anywhere, its incredible and we are so proud to be part of it! Rather than getting too hyped about where it’s going to go, we are just counting our blessings and just hoping it all carries on the same upwards trajectory.
Matt: I think we have always been like that to be honest, I mean it gets busier and busier from year to year but we just try and stay totally focused on making the best music we can and improving our creativity at every opportunity.
Josh: Well to put it in perspective, I think it’s been around two years since we were doing our thing at the Pickle Factory which is only a one hundred and fifty capacity venue and we were absolutely bricking it, wondering if we could fill it up, so you can’t imagine how we feel right now having sold the Printworks out! It might have been a five year plan in our dreams…
Matt: … yeah but not in such a short amount of time, its just unbelievable!
As mentioned, the new Outline tour starts very soon – what is life like on the road between you two? Always on time or organised chaos? What’s the best thing about being on tour and what are you looking forward to?
Josh: I’ll let Matt take this one, he has lots of his own problems he might want to tell you about haha!
Matt: Well, yeah Josh is definitely the chaotic one and he’s got some problems and we are working on them really hard! He’s definitely making progress so I am sure we will get there eventually. Too many after parties, too much to drink – definitely none of that behaviour coming from me, that life is not for me at all hahaha!
Josh: Yeah Matt just spends his time on Tripadvisor looking for nice restaurants don’t you!
(both laugh a lot!)
Josh: The thing I am looking forward to the most is just enjoying it – last time we were asking ourselves whether we could do a headline tour, and whether enough tickets were sold and that sort of thing whereas this time around we don’t have to worry about any of that as that kind of pressure is completely off this time, so we can purely focus on delivering the best show we can and that is a great feeling.
Matt: Performing a headline show altogether is going to be really special, there’s the four of us with Tempza and Charlotte Haining and we will be together for every step of it , so its going to be a really memorable experience as we are all good friends and work so well together too.
Any surprises or exclusives we can look forward to?
Josh: Yeah, Matt is going to get naked!! Haha!
Matt: Yeah keep locked on socials for further information on that front! Hahaha.
Ok, lets leave it there! Thank you gents, anything you would like to say?
Josh: Yeah, like we said before – you know drum and bass is just absolutely smashing it in the UK at the moment and we love it, you know it’s the same around the world and even on the other side of the planet in New Zealand too, because every time anyone that you speak to anyone in the genre who goes out there to play, they come back shocked with their mind blown at how well this scene is doing, so you just know it is so special – so massive thanks to everyone out there that makes that possible for all of us.
Matt: Thanks for having us and taking the time to talk, we really appreciate it!
Josh: We just hope you are lucky enough to come to one of the dates of the tour where Matt gets naked!!! Hahaha!
Thank you gents, all the best with the tour!
Grab tickets for Hybrid Minds Outline tour HERE.