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A Toast With HØST // Interview

To New Releases, Bits And Pieces

Yo, it’s Meg here from Goat Shed…

How’re you doing?

Safe safe safe, how’re you?

Very well, Harry isn’t it? Or (OUUSST)? Is that how you pronounce it?

It’s Host, said normally. I think everyone assumes that it’s pronounced like that because it’s how they say it on Noisia Radio and because it has that Norwegian letter in it but it’s supposed to be just, Host. I was being cool I guess, one of those.

It translates to Autumn or Harvest right?

That’s the direct translation. The name itself came about ages ago at my friend’s house. He wrote down a list of artist names and Host jumped out at me, I just shoved the Ø on it just to be that kid.

How long has it been your alias because you started experimenting with production from the age of 13 right?

Only for the last 3-4 years. I used to make dubstep but the more screechy kind. A large wave of those years was me attempting to write shit that didn’t sound shit, those long years of development where you are just punching out crap 24/7.

What did your production set-up look like back then in comparison to now?

I’ve always used the same doors, I’ve always been on Reason. The only difference is that I’ve bought a couple of synths. I have a Moog Sub 37 and I bought an 0-Coast the other day, a little modular kinda synth, so not much. I’ve had to move back to my parents from Bristol so I’m in a small bedroom and don’t really have anything out. I’ve got the Sub 37 set up with the midi but apart from that I’m just working on the laptop, keeping it simple.

You were musical from a young age and played a bunch of instruments, right?

I wanted to be. I wouldn’t class myself as musically gifted. There are some lucky motherfuckers who exist in the world who can pick up instruments and play them just by listening. I tried instruments to varying success: trumpet, guitar and piano. Piano, I play every night now. I’m learning classical songs at the moment and have just learnt ‘In The Hall of the Mountain King’ by Grieg. I’m now comfortable playing two-handed and have learnt lots of chords and the theory behind it, so it’s quite nice to just sit and play. I don’t have speakers set up at the moment so it’s the best form of jamming out live – going old school.

Where would you say you have developed such an eclectic musical palette from?

I’ve been lucky, both of my parents are into music. They used to take me to gigs so they’ve encouraged me in that way and I’ve always been given access to new music. I was talking to my friend about this actually… When I was younger, I’d go to a mates house and our day together would be watching Kerrang and shit like that. I don’t know if anyone does it anymore but that’s all we used to do. Obviously you got exposed to a lot of shite music that way but I guess that was an influence to a degree.

I can relate. How are we doing amongst the madness in the world anyway?

Yeah, fine, in quite a comfortable position now I’m back home on the outskirts of the New Forest. It’s lovely being back here. I’ve been living in Bristol for the last 4 years so it’s nice to be back in the country. Bristol is lush though as it’s a city but you still have access to a lot of green spaces so it’s easy to cut out the city when it gets a bit much. I’m not a big city guy, so it was my number one option.

Is there anything music-wise going on where you are at the moment?

The closest place to us is Bournemouth, so no. It’s pretty dead and they don’t do anything in Ringwood. A couple of my mates trek to do radio shows but that’s literally it. You’re a bit cut off here but I’m not complaining. As much as I love listening to music, I’m a bit of a hermit. I spend most of my free time inside writing music, I never really make it out. The last time I went out must’ve been last year when I played in Croatia at Outlook Festival. I turned up and drank so much of that Croatian beer, I spent two days chundering next to the pool. It was a vibe. You’ve got to write yourself off for the first couple of days.

What are your thoughts on how the current climate will affect the underground music scene? Will it go more underground and will you be getting involved?

I think it’ll really push for a resurgence. Throughout history, you look at times of hardship and if anything it encourages the arts. I think there’s going to be a lot of emotive music to come out of it. People will feel a certain way about things and realise that they have more time to focus on their hobbies. If you were feeling directionless beforehand, this could really help. I don’t know if it’s the case for everyone, but sometimes you can’t beat something shit happening. It’s good for inspiration, you know. It’s definitely made me think of different things to pursue. My plan for winter is to cut down on doing music and write a sketch show. I think it’ll be a laugh.

So despite some losses, the underground scene may develop a new drive...

Yeah, it’s crap as they’re blanket banning events and venues are going to get sold off but I don’t think that has ever stopped anyone in the UK wanting to party. It’ll just change the dynamic. It’s an interesting time, especially for the underground scene, as I think there’ll be more people putting money into it. Bigger artists may have to do other things that aren’t music-related and subsequently to that, there won’t be as many people constantly on the rotation. Smaller events would be cool. It’s hard to make assumptions though as it could go the other way and it could be really shit. I have very little trust in the government doing anything productive towards it.

What do you think the next step should be?

If I’m being cynical, I think they’ve left everything too late. We should’ve locked down ages ago and for longer; the second wave was inevitable. I think it’s hard to now ask ‘what can we do?’ We’ve had a load of jokers in office for the last 6 months who haven’t invested in anything sensible. The only way we could make something feasible is if we invested large amounts of money into testing, to the point where you could start making certain policies. You can’t make assumptions from the current statistics as they’re not relevant. There’s no standard amount of daily tests, let alone ones that work so we’re unable to make correlations. If we’re going to start talking about art venues opening up, this is what we need but there are so many factors.
HØST In Action Pre-Covid-19

Have you done any socially distanced gigs?

I haven’t. My friend played one in London the other day but I was working so couldn’t go. It looks a bit strange doesn’t it? They have to put a volume restriction on it now as well don’t they?

Apparently there is a bit of a fight to get the benches at the front so you can hear the rig…

I bet. The thing that throws me off, even when you go to the pub for a couple of pints, you get in and it’s ten past ten. You’re pretty waved and you’re like, ‘shit, what do I do now?’ I’m there trying to write a tune, can’t see properly, trying to press buttons. It’s just weird, I don’t know when it’s going to end.

Let’s hope it does end and soon.

I know. It’s not dance-music but I booked tickets to go and see Pearl Jam and The Pixies in London next year so hopefully, things are levelled off for then.

Obviously, Covid-19 has put a spanner in the works in regards to how artists such as yourself are spending your time and organising future plans but if we stay on a positive note, has anything come out of it that wouldn’t necessarily have happened otherwise?

It has allowed me to take a step back and look at what I want to do or what I want to be when it comes to my creative output. I’ve got one or two releases lined up with a couple of labels but, I think, after that I’m going to go completely independent. That’s the biggest change that has come out of this for me. I’ve managed to write out a plan for the next couple of years and I’m excited to see where it’s going to go. It’s going to be a lot less dance music and a lot more musical-esc, if you know what I mean.

You have definitely been busy this year regardless. Your Broken Bones EP has just dropped. What would say your main influences behind this are?

I fancied writing some D&B, it had been a while. I wanted to write something a bit more dancefloor-y. I know a lot of the music I write is bass-heavy but I’d say to a degree, it’s more experimental. Three of the tracks, I wrote whilst at Outlook.

That is commitment.

I was sitting in the flat with my mate and was in the mood. I’d been listening to D&B all day, I played a boat party and in the back of my head I was thinking ‘I’m getting asked to play more D&B and haven’t actually written any myself’. That was the influence, plus there were some great tracks being played when we were out. The title track Broken Bones: I was just playing around on one of my synths, made the bassline, put some drums to it and that was that. Sometimes it just comes together easy.

And the collaboration with Balatron, did you work together in the studio at all?

Unfortunately not, he’s from Iceland. I’d love to go out there and see him one day but, no, it was the classic back and forth drop-box ones.

Have you got a personal favourite from the EP?

My favourite one to work on was Serpents but my favourite track is Broken Bones. I love the bass on it. It’s one of those… There are lots of tracks you like, you finish them, then you listen to them a week later and you hate them. I’d say that is most of my tunes to be honest, so the fact I still like those ones is a good sign.

PURCHASE THE EP HERE: https://www.beatport.com/release/broken-bones-ep/3152853

Do you have a relationship with the Noisia guys?

Nothing further than they support a lot of my music which is nice. I played in Amsterdam with Hyroglifics and met Frank who is Posij, he’s sound and has always supported me. He’s always been good at showing them my music. Unfortunately, there’s not any connection where I talk to them which would be lush because obviously, they were one of the biggest influences for music that I make. I’ve always loved Noisia. One day I’ll meet them and give them some shit.

Earlier in the year, you mentioned that you wiped most of your productions from previous years because you weren’t satisfied with it. You wanted to come back with a more concise and standout approach in 2020. Are you happy with the results?

I feel like I have an inability to be happy with it ever. I probably sound morbid but the second I’ve done something it’s great, then it’s out and it’s cool for 5 minutes, but then I’m like ‘I need to be working on the next thing’. I definitely haven’t put out as much music as I wanted to because so many things got in the way. I don’t think I was in the right mind space for the majority of it but off the back of that, I’ve probably written about 100 tunes to come out next year.

That is more than decent.

Yeah, I signed a 16 track EP the other day. A lot of the older tracks, I listen to them and like some of the ideas but I’m still learning a lot as a producer. I can see what I wanted to do with them but haven’t been able to achieve it because my ability wasn’t up to scratch. So with my favourite ones, I’ve stripped out the bits that I like from them and I’m going to rebuild them.

Another recent project and bringing the tempo down a little, you are the third person to release on Sherrelle and Naina’s new record label Hooversounds. Has that been in the works for long?

We sorted it last year. I did a mix for LCY and she was chilling with Sherelle at the time. I normally do a straight hour production mix and both tracks were on there. Sherrelle messaged me being like we are just about to start a new label, can we take them on for it.

Om Unit obviously did a bangin’ remix as well, were you expecting that one?

No not at all, it was cool. I mean it’s Om Unit, he’s so sick. It does make me laugh though, since then I’ve had more people asking me to do shit. The comment is always ‘I really liked your release, my favourite track was that Om Unit remix’. You’re like ‘yeah safe’. As much as it was fantastic (I can’t say anything bad about it), there is always the danger of having an Om Unit remix on your release. It’s the tumble weed… Then you’re like ‘shit, do you like any of the ones that I did?’ But no, it was dope and those two are really nice. It’s my first vinyl release too, it feels like a stepping stone.
PURCHASE THE EP HERE: https://hooversoundrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/survive

You can definitely flip a tune yourself  as well though. I’m obsessed with your ‘Tried By Twelve’ flip.

I’ve written so many versions of it over the years, I’ve always loved that tune. I grew up listening to hip hop and that was one of those. I needed to remix it and give it a new-y half-time-y vibe. I was really happy with it eventually. The one I’ve got up at the moment is obviously the newer version, there was one which had to be taken down because I hated it… anxiety took over.
https://hstmusic.bandcamp.com/track/tried-by-twelve

Are you listening to any hip hop at the moment?

I listen to mainly radio 6. I don’t wanna plug radio 6 but they play such a nice variety of music. Mary Anne Hobbs’s mixes are a vibe. I heard a guy the other day called ‘Reginald the Third’ which is new hip hop with a Kaytranada vibe. I’m also really into ‘The Idles’, a new punk band from Bristol, really sick. I listen to a lot of UK rap and UK drill but if I’m listening to hip hop, it’s East Coast 90’s. That’s my jam: Big L, Big Pun. I don’t particularly like auto-tune trap shit, and that’s me making a really un-knowledgable dig about the scene in America but it’s just not my thing. UK rap is what I’m stuck to, it’s a bit more evil and the beats are deconstructed.

You are all about switching up the BPM when it comes to your productions. You never really know what you’re gonna get. Is this something you know when you start a track or does it just depend on how the track develops?

Before I start the track I’ll tap the tempo of what I’m feeling or I’ll sit there and beatbox a beat to myself. I’ll start with a chord progression too, then I’ll record a lead over it and fuck with it until it’s something. Yesterday I wrote something that came out at 121bpm, played some weird little broken drum breaks from the keyboard and then quantized it. It’s like, broken disco. That’s the process, try and let yourself be led. At the moment I’d say, if I was to sit and write something it would be at 70bpm or 67. That’s always nice because you can do weird house shit with bass music. I’m loving sustained chords with a basic 4×4 beat over it. I want to start writing more listening music rather than something that you necessarily need to listen to out. It doesn’t need to be anything, it’s just there as an expression piece.

That’s lovely. You recently made a track in your dream and then recreated it in real life right? That is pretty nuts.

Yeah it’s weird, that one, it changed the direction of how I was writing music. There was just music playing and all I can remember is this vocal cut which kept saying ‘torro’. I vividly remembered it the next day and I thought ‘I’m not going to try and write anything now, I’m just going to wait for it to come back to me. I was sitting there one day playing with this sound design piece and it was like déjà vu. I wasn’t thinking about it. I recorded the vocals on my phone and everything fit perfectly together. It took me an hour to write but it was one of the most interesting and experimental pieces of music I’ve ever written. It’s a very personal piece to me. It feels nostalgic because it felt like I was having a dream about something which had happened before. I think it’s coming out on that 16 track EP. Some of them, I’m actually singing on them and shit. I don’t really know how I feel about it but I’m looking forward to putting it out because I feel like it is a turning point in my music.

Here is a cheeky teaser: https://www.instagram.com/p/CFtnKiplGfv/

I look forward to hearing it. I’ve just got a few random quick-fire questions for you now

Imagine you are throwing an after Covid-19 party. Who do you want on the line-up?

I guess I’d just have to say loads of my homies. I’d love to see Aagentah who is my matey from Manchester and I’ve got a couple in Bristol like Thenticity and 4Tune. Yunis too, he’s a German beat producer, and would be cool to see. Yeah, I’d just get all of the homies back. All my friends live so sparsely apart so when we do see each other, it’s a rare occasion.

Where would it be?

In some field where we can get wiggy; a mass consumption field. Somewhere warm with nice seating, fluffy blankets and a big fire with campsite vibes on point. Oh and a shed where we can all listen to loud music getting blinded by strobe lights.

What are you most looking forward to after the rules and regulations ease?

Going on holiday man, as basic as that sounds. I want to go and sit in France somewhere near the sea, drink loads of nice wine and eat cheese. Yeah, somewhere where I can disconnect and turn everything off, go to a yoga retreat or some shit. Reset vibes.

Any cities you especially enjoy visiting and immersing yourself when it comes to music?

I had loads of fun when I played in Berlin. I love the city and it’s culture. Bristol is always good but when you live there the specialty of it wears off quite quickly. I’d love to go somewhere in Holland but I’ve only ever been out in Ultrecht which is quite far out and there’s only really one club so I don’t know if it would be a full-on vibe.

If you could go anywhere in the world and eat any dish, what would it be?

Somewhere on the Meds and I want an absolutely massive plate of it. I want fried fritto misto with calamari on the side and then a portion of chips… Full carbs, that’s what I’m feeling. That would be the dream, with a stein of beer. Puy lentils would be nice too, or even mussels. I’d maybe put all of it in one meal or wrap it in a big sandwich, perfect, like Scooby-Doo the fish edition.

One more question that I ask to everyone that I ever interview… What are you spreading on your toast?

I’m trying not to be boring but probably just butter. My sister made some nice jam the other day but I don’t normally eat in the morning. Hummus though… I don’t know if you class that as a spread though, it’s more of a dip. I mean you could spread it but I’m much more of a dipper, even if I was having something like jam.

So a bit of butter and something to dip?

No, that’s the other thing. If I’ve got butter on it I can’t have anything else on it. In Scouts when I was younger, it would be a camp night and they’d make you a piece of toast with a fuck load of butter on it and then chocolate spread. I don’t know why but it grosses me out. That’s not a send for anyone who does it, live your own life but I just can’t. Even if I’m having a sandwich I couldn’t have butter and mayo. It’s something in my head. If I’ve had a couple of drinks and it’s nice bread I’d have butter. If it’s out-the-packet bread I’d probably go, depending on how drunk I am, peanut butter and jam – something sweet to muck up the alcohol. In all reality though, if there’s hummus in the fridge, I’m not having anything on it at all. I’m just cracking on with loads of bread and chowing down on a whole pot of hummus.

See this is the kind of answer that I want when I ask this question. On that note, I will leave you to your evening. Big up!

Interview By Meg Babey Davies