Interview: Hyetal Talks About Emotional Jams, Makes an Exclusive Mix

June 01, 2011

Hyetal’s debut album Broadcast is beautiful. It's propulsive, consistent and a little somber at times. It's an album you can dance to, but you might also just want to stare into space and think about how life is strange. Mostly, it's just incredibly sure of itself. A tight, compact work that synthesizes pop music and weird ambient stuff into one driving whole. We spoke to Hyetal about the record while he was at the grocery store, then he made a mix for us that gives a pretty good idea of where he's coming from.

Download: Hyetal's FADER Mix

Johnny Ace – The Clock
Cocteau Twins – When Mama was a moth
John Cooper Clarke – Evidently Chickentown
Steve Reich – America – before the war
Mark Isham – Cars and Helicopters
RP Boo – Eraser
BB&Q Band – Dreamer (Shep Petibone Long Vocal Version)
Mantronix – Bassline
The Splash Band – Das Philadelphia Experiment
John Carpenter – First Chase
Anne Clark – Sleeper in Metropolis
Cannibal Ox – Scream Phoenix

Was Broadcast always meant to be this diverse and occasionally ambient? You’ve mentioned in interviews that you were drawing from a lot of your contemporaries. If anything, I went back a little bit. I’d been into stranger electronic bits and pieces before I found dubstep or bass music or whatever you want to call it. I went back and revisited a lot influences I had from before. I’d been into stuff like Tangerine Dream, and I ended up listening to a bit more of that sort of stuff.

It seems like you took the emotional ideas that exist in the textures in ambient records and attempted to structure it into something with a much more traditional song format. Yeah, for sure. I mean, a lot of the stuff I was into at the time was soundtrack music. A lot of my favorite soundtracks are structured and would have these kinds of songs on them—these ambient pieces. I guess that informed how it panned out as well.

Did you build the rest of the album around “Phoenix?” Phoenix was done first. There wasn’t any immediate plans for an album at that point. The thing is, I was trying to find my direction. At that point, I had fallen into making dubstep affiliated stuff, and just from being in Bristol—that scene dried up a bit. But I was into a lot of music from London, like funky and a lot of the newer house stuff, but I couldn’t really make that. It was too focused on complex rhythm, which I can’t really do—or didn’t find so easy to do naturally, you know? I was just trying to find my diection, and I wrote “Phoenix” and incorporated loads of stuff I was listening to at the time and loads of stuff that was important to me as a kid. That was well received, and then it seemed more appropriate to do an album than to keep releasing singles at that point.

The record has a really consistent sound and emotional resonance. Is there any specific mindset you were in when you were writing it? Without going too much into it—it’s something I really like to do with my music—to try to keep it as open to interpretation as possible. I don’t really want too much of what was effecting me as a human to be known too much because it almost tells people how to interpret the music. Let’s say I was writing a certain song and I was depressed or whatever, that’s sort of telling people what it is. I’d much rather they find their own meaning in it. There are for sure various things in my life across the writing of it—the whole thing took a year, so a lot of stuff happened, and yeah, at points I was kind of down and trying to find hope. It’s a range of different things. I suppose it’s just what most people feel over a year.

Interview: Hyetal Talks About Emotional Jams, Makes an Exclusive Mix