Sim Hutchins got his record deal in the most 2015 way possible: through what he describes as a "bit of light trolling." The Essex-born, analog equipment-loving prankster described over email to The FADER how he used a cryptic Twitter account that he dedicated to "screencaps of weird YouTube videos" to gently pester his favorite imprint, No Pain In Pop, until they eventually took a listen to his DIY dance music. It's not a model for success we'd recommend, but this is one case where trolling actually seems to have worked out well for both troller and trollee: for evidence, look no further than Hutchins' debut LP I Enjoy To Sweep A Room, out this week on NPIP and streaming in full below.
With a love of collecting outdated equipment from eBay to create those crunchy sounds that "programmers would never bother to make a VST of," Sim Hutchins made his debut album mostly on "rack FX and old guitar pedals." "The main synth I used on the record was a Casio CZ I found in a skip," he explains. Together with another Casio synth bought at a market in south London and some "Soviet-era drum synths" that "sound like winter," the result is a record with uniquely fleshy textures and an offbeat, scruffy vibe. From the slow-paced space landing of "I Felt Like A Fox Being Hunted" to the cavernous 4/4 thump of "Nihilism Was Not Sustainable," and the drone of "Brick Through A Church Window," each track forms its own, nuanced little world. Dive in below, and read on for more on how Seinfeld and @GhettoMemez inspired this of-the-moment record.
Hey, Sim Hutchins! Do you really enjoy to sweep a room?
What would be the ideal environment to listen to this album in?
I seem to have my headphones on at all times. I purposely produced a lot of intricate moments on the album's tracks for just this kind of listening. I like to think the mixture of serenity and disruption on the record makes it both ideal for the real club, or more suitably: the bedroom club.
Your music seems to have little optimism—"Tie Me To A Rocket (And Point Me At The Ground)"—but is clearly imbued with a sense of humor. What was on your mind while making this album?
I spent a lot of time alone making this record, to the point where I was isolating myself from the outside world a bit. This controlled and insular approach had a huge impact on the record's sound, and at some points I feared it was a bit too revealing. “Tie Me To A Rocket” was made to represent an ending to the album's agitated and nihilistic narrative, it's an optimistic letting-go of sorts. Less: “nothing matters,” more: “what does it matter?”
What was it like growing up in Essex? Can you tell us more about the pirate radio scene there?
NW Essex is pretty scenic but still just a stone's throw from the tower blocks of London. I would go to work with my dad in the school holidays and he'd drive around there and we'd listen to pirate radio in his van. Back in Essex Y2K (famously parodied in the BBC3 series People Just Do Nothing) was an important station for pushing UKG in the region, and I remember winning a contest for a slot on Renegade FM... and it shutting down the next week. Another station I was on, the owner threatened to beat me up while I was on air. It's equal parts exciting and shambolic if I'm honest.
There's an interesting juxtaposition in how you deal with themes/ideas related to online culture in your work, but with a deliberately nostalgic and offline aesthetic. What's the thinking behind that?
I think the nostalgia in my work is for something that never existed all at one time; it's selectively archival. The visual and conceptual side of my art is always aimed at being a representation of my audio methodology, which is an obsession with re-processing my own material until it takes on new forms.
I feel outlets like @GhettoMemez—a Twitter account that posts Instagrammed memes that are screenshotted to within an inch of their lives—mirror this idea, as it seeks to challenge the notion that a digital age means a higher fidelity, losslessness and preservation. Ultimately degradation always occurs on a minute level.
What's next for Sim Hutchins?
I've just had a video make it through the selection process and into the 2015 London Short Film Festival so naturally I'm over the moon about that. There's a launch party for my record at The Waiting Room in Hackney on November 25th, with Prayer supporting. Besides a few other shows dotted around the country and some film projects, I'm just going to be sitting around and waiting for Gucci Mane to get out of jail.