Interview: Hexstatic’s Robin Brunson
Hexstatic, for the uninitiated, are an amazing production duo – Robin Brunson and Stuart Warren Hill – specialising in creating quirky audio visual electro. Robin will be playing at Videocrash at Village Underground, London on Friday 4th October, so Somethingyousaid.com’s 25ThC caught up with him in advance of the show:
How and where did you first meet Stuart and why did you decide to set up Hexstatic?
We met through a mutual friend at the Channel 5 launch party. We were both doing some visuals, got talking, Stuart had just stared working with Coldcut and they needed someone to do some 3D animations on their upcoming ‘Let Us Play’ album. I went to Ninja HQ, met Matt Black and next thing I’m working for my musical heroes! When that project finished, we pitched to Ninja to do a whole AV album from what had started with ‘Timber’. They said yes and the rest is history.
You have been based on Ninja Tune for a number of years now. How has being on such a diverse and forward-thinking label affected your productions and releases?
Well we’re actually not signed to Ninja anymore. I’m releasing stuff through my Lower Level imprint/Bandcamp and some other labels… Stuart through Holotronica… but being with Ninja helped us produce a project that probably no other label would have taken on at the time. Hexstatic was always an AV project at heart and not really based on music alone, but people were impressed by the live shows and the quality of music production and so I think Ninja could see that it would also work via a record label.
What did you seek to promote in your music and visuals when you first started and has that changed in any way over the years?
There were some political themes in tracks like ‘Timber’ and ‘Distorted Minds’, but at the heart of it we really just wanted to party and get the crowd moving. If we could open their eyes a bit while doing this, well, all the better. The shows I do on my own now are pretty much straight up party music and the visuals are there to enhance that, bringing a better connection and experience to crowd while doing so. Also nobody wants to look at my ugly mug, so the visuals distract from that.
You are performing at Videocrash at Village Underground on the 4th October 2013 and I am really looking forward to the show. What do you have planned for it?
It’s a whole new AV show, very up-tempo and dancefloor friendly with some funny elements in there to connect with the crowd. A mixture of old favourites and new tunes from both myself and other sources.
In terms of video production what is your current hardware and software setup?
I use Final Cut, After Effects and Ableton for synchronising video precisely.
For live shows what hardware and software do you use and is it getting easier to perform as technology progresses with touch screens and more powerful computers?
I’ve recently moved to using Serato DJ with the video plug-in, after years of using Pioneer DVJ decks. It’s been a bit of a revelation. I’ve also ditched the decks and I’m using a Novation Twitch controller which was initially strange as it uses touch-strips for cueing and transport, but now I really love it. I was never any good at scratching anyway. It gives me a whole new level of controlling both the audio and video effects side of things which is great. I’m also using an iPhone or iPad and a controller program called Touch Osc. It’s amazing, you can build your own touch screen interfaces and then map them directly via midi over wifi to control anything you want in Serato. I use it to control audio and video effects remotely which is great, in performance you don’t have to use a the fiddly track pad on a laptop. The whole system is also now extremely compact.
Last year you played at Videocrash presenting “Holotronica in 3D” using new technologies. How does it differ in terms of producing the visuals and the show in 3D as opposed to 2D and do you think we are getting closer to 3D becoming the norm and perhaps holographic visuals in the near future?
Like I said, this is Stuart’s project, but we have done 3D shows in the past using old school ‘anaglyph’ technology. There’s definitely a future in it but at the moment it’s quite prohibitively expensive to produce content and put on shows and earn a living from it.
Which artists have influenced you over the years and who are you currently listening to?
Well, everything from electronic pioneers like Kraftwerk, to Jazz stalwarts like Oscar Peterson. I love a lot of early Acid House, Bam Bam, Adonis, Phuture, etc, and recently did a mix for the Solid Steel anniversary around this theme which you can find here.
More up to date I’m loving artists like Tessela, Dusky, Om Unit, Special Request, House Of Black Lanterns. I’ve been buying a lot more albums on vinyl recently as well, but mainly older stuff like Deodato – a Brazillian who plays cheesy funk, and stuff like Tomita, slightly obscure early electronica from Japan.
I’m a big fan of your Master-View and Solid Steel albums. Are you working on new material at present and if so when will it be released and what form will it take?
I’ve just put out an EP, ‘Timegone’, which you can download for free/name your price/or donate here.
Then there’s another single, ‘Treat You Right’ coming out on new label Muskox records next month. There’s mixes coming out on Solid Steel every so often and a big archive here.
What has been the highlight of your career to date?
Well I’d say most of the Big Chill (rip) shows we did as it was our home turf and it would always be packed, be it main stage, club tent or ‘Media Mix’ tent, but we’ve also had some amazing shows in Japan playing to tens of thousands and being on bills with the likes of The Prodigy and LCD Soundsystem.
Robin Brunson plays Videocrash at Village Underground, London on Friday 4th October 2013 alongside DJ Kentaro, Dr Meaker and DJ Irk. Tickets can be purchased here.
Interview by 25ThC