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Dónal Sharpson

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Hyroglifics is no more- Introducing: Two Swords

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Hyroglifics is no more- Introducing: Two Swords

Popping off onto the scene all the way back in 2014 with a release on Kasra’s world-renowned Critical Music, Matt Harris AKA Hyroglifics has been at the forefront of mind-bending drum & bass and dubstep. Over the past decade, the prolific producer has seen a total of 10 EP’s on Critical including the critically acclaimed collaboration EP ‘Wicked and Bad’ with Sam Binga in 2020 and the Forlorn EP in 2021. 2023 saw the release of his stellar 16-track album I’ll Wait, I Guess on which featured bangers such as Albany Road, Air Max Flow featuring Mancunian rapper Black Josh and the 150 BPM drill-influenced banger Two for Two featuring Deft which rocked dance floors across the UK, Europe and the US. While the album was rooted in drum & bass, hints of what was to come for the new sound of Matt Harris was obvious. 

In a bold move, Hyroglifics has recently rebranded himself as Two Swords, signalling a departure from the confines of drum & bass and embracing a darker, genre-fluid sound that encompasses elements of bass music, trap and drill. From his roots in Bristol’s thriving music scene to his recent relocation to Los Angeles, Matt shares insights into the factors influencing his evolution as an artist. 

In anticipation of his debut Two Swords release, baja blast / pushback, UKF sat down with Matt to discuss the landscape of drum & bass in 2024, both in the UK and the USA as well as his creative process driving his upcoming releases and the impact of this transition on his fanbase and the broader electronic music community. Two Swords, invites us to journey with him into uncharted sonic territories, where boundaries blur, genres are deconstructed and experimentation reigns supreme.

Hey Matt! Where are you today?

I’m currently based out on the West Coast in LA at the moment.

What made you move to Los Angeles from Bristol?

I packed up my life and moved out to Los Angeles mainly for personal and professional reasons at the tail end of 2022. I was out here on tour after Covid as Hyroglifics, and kind of fell in love with the place. I wasn’t finding much inspiration in the UK at the time and simultaneously wasn’t really enjoying the path the UK seemed to be on and needed a change. Apart from my own projects I’m also actively involved in creating and producing for other artists. I really enjoy the process of helping others realise a vision for their music, and wanted to pursue that more so LA felt like the perfect place. 

The US seems to finally be catching on to the whole drum & bass thing. It seemed to be ‘in’ sound at Coachella this year, with acts like John Summit even dropping some in his set. Is it more on the zeitgeist over there? What’s going on?

Yeah, I feel like everyone is talking about drum and bass over here at the moment, which is great. It’s always been present but has been gaining a lot more traction in the US as of late. I’ve been touring here since 2018, so I’ve definitely seen it exponentially grow in the past two years. A lot of big EDM acts like David Guetta and Tiësto have also been playing drum & bass in their sets recently and It’s sort of shining a light on it for the masses who probably wouldn’t have been necessarily been exposed to it before, or even really knew what the distinct sound of it is. Other genres like UK garage are also now making landfall here too which is cool to see.

In the UK there has been a bit of a boom in jump up, and drum and bass in general. It seems to be the sound of the TikTok generation, similar to how brostep was to YouTube. Is that translating over to the States?

I think it’s been a contributing factor for sure. Tiktok and its influence on the sound of certain genres has been interesting to watch develop. New producers are coming up through posting on TikTok who aren’t necessarily pushing any boundaries creatively or sonically. There’s so much content to consume at the moment, so it’s made things pretty competitive also. A lot of it ends up sounding very similar and the palette isn’t really being pushed as much anymore, which is a bit of a shame. You kind of have to chase the formula and appease the algorithm to get recognised nowadays. On the plus side, it is showing drum & bass to a new young audience that can take the mantle forward.

Since drum & bass is at a height of popularity that the genre hasn’t seen in years, how come a lot of its producers who have been pushing the sound for years are all of a sudden changing lanes like yourself? Is this a form of weird self-sabotage?

As an artist self-expression is the key to keeping things interesting. I love the tempo of D&B but you’re able to explore a lot more with slower tempos which I’m currently enjoying. During the pandemic a lot of producers made the realisation ‘Oh, I guess I don’t have to just make dance music all the time’. I think that time allowed people to explore other creative avenues through music. Pre-pandemic, a lot of listeners were stuck only liking a handful of genres, whereas now a lot of people are very open with their music tastes. 

Can you elaborate on the inspiration behind your decision to transition from Hyroglifics to Two Swords? How does this name change reflect your current artistic vision and sound?

For some time, I’ve felt as if the name Hyroglifics no longer represents my current sound and the direction of where I want to take my music. As an artist, change is inevitable and the only real constant in life. With that, sometimes we have to go through periods of change or uncertainty in order to move forward. And just like in life, we all have to grow. For the past few years, I’ve been creating music for my own projects alongside conceptualising + producing for other artists. The name Two Swords collates these two areas of my life and combines them together as one, as well as exploring new sounds and tempos.

As Two Swords, my creative process involves exploring a wider range of sounds and tempos compared to my previous work as Hyroglifics. There’s definitely some inspiration from artists like SBTRKT and Lapalux in there who both have such an amazing catalogue of music. Joy Orbison as well, the way he can delve into different realms with his music really inspired me. I love how Skrillex has come back into the fold too with his new music and the way he can morph through different sounds and genres with ease. 

I want Two Swords to be an amalgamation of all the artists who’ve inspired me, but while still not forgetting the roots of what I’ve been doing for the past 12 years as Hyroglifics. It’s not a new project as such, just a continuation, but with a bigger range of sonics. I have such a diverse range of musical influences and want to keep experimenting and pushing the fold of what is both innovative and emotionally resonant.

To play Devil’s Advocate here, is a rebrand necessary, or could you not have continued as Hyroglifics? Why the need for a change in name and brand?

I could have definitely kept releasing under Hyroglifics but I wanted a more solid distinction so changing my name felt necessary in order to move forward. When you’re known for only doing D&B for so long it’s hard to break out and do anything outside of that drum & bass sphere. Whereas for other artists, if they start in a different genre it’s easier for them to transition to releasing other genres such as drum & bass. Hyroglifics has had problems when it came to search engine optimisation and meeting new people and telling them about the project was sometimes awkward, because the spelling is slightly off. I definitely needed something more grounded when it came to that. Every time you type in Hyroglifics you would get, well, hieroglyphics or the 90’s rap crew.

Do you have any ideas as to why that might be?

I’m not really sure. I think it might be that on face value, drum and bass has so many different facets and different sounds, but on the surface level someone who isn’t familiar with it might have a negative connotation to it. When someone says to me that they make drum & bass I know they could be talking about liquid or rollers, but to your outsider, they just automatically assume that it’s jump up. 

So this is you branding yourself as a multi-genre DJ and producer.

Exactly, that’s the vibe basically. That’s what excites me and what I want to pursue in the future. 

You mentioned that ‘Two Swords’ is based on dualities in life. Could you delve deeper into these dualities and how they influence your music production process?

I kept thinking about how I’m split between the music I’m producing for other artists, and then the more club-orientated stuff that I make. Two Swords sound is more of an expansion into other territories other than drum & bass.  I love how producers like Joy Orbison or Skrillex, can just jump from project to project in different genres while maintaining a consistent sound. 

You put out a new release baja blast / pushback in April. What can listeners expect from the new music you’ll be sharing in the coming months under the Two Swords alias? Are there any specific themes or sonic elements that define this new chapter in your artistic journey?

Moving forward I’m just going to concentrate on releasing independently. I’ve been really enjoying the freedom that comes with it. I’m very appreciative of the support that I’ve had from labels over the past 10 years, it’s been an incredible experience and I’ve learnt so much through working with some of the best labels in the game. But for this project, it feels a lot more of an achievement having more control and doing it myself. I like how easy it is to just finish a track and put it out when I want to.

My first release as Two Swords is out now, baja blast / pushback so definitely check that out. These two tunes came pretty quick, I think I made them in the same week when I first moved to LA. 

These two tracks complement each other quite well. baja blast doesn’t quite fit in the realm of a specific ‘genre’ or ‘style’ while pushback is more your standard drum and bass club track. Break down these two tracks for me…

For sure! Both these tunes were amongst the first batch of tunes I made when I first moved from the UK. baja blast is definitely a more unconventional D&B tune, whilst still having a drum and bass-centric aesthetic to it. It’s a bit unorthodox, a bit weird. It’s not a specific ‘steppa’ pattern. That was the main focus really. It sums up the project nicely though. It still maintains my drum & bass roots but pushes the boundaries sonically.

On the flip pushback is more conventional in its approach as a drum & bass tune. I just wanted to make a roller with this one! pushback had a very simple dance-floor vibe and baja blast was more trying to experiment a bit more and to mess with drum patterns. 

Musicians who Produce and DJ, oftentimes struggle to make the music that they want, while also catering to a club audience. Is Two Swords your answer to this problem?

I see a lot of producers and DJs who find a ‘formula’ that works for them and then just rinse and repeat. From a brand standpoint that’s great, but I personally need to keep challenging myself when it comes to production. I spent a lot of last year focused on improving my songwriting ability and think this shows in the upcoming batches of releases. 

My taste has slowly been evolving to this point for a couple of years, and people who know my work have probably noticed the shift. Rebranding under Two Swords is a distinction between this, allowing freedom to release whatever I feel suits the project at the time. It’s easy to get boxed in when you make drum & bass for such a long time, and I felt the need to evolve past this to grow my project and keep challenging myself further.

Moving forward, will you just be releasing double singles?

I actually really enjoy the format of releasing music as double singles. Historically artists would put out an A-side with a slightly more left-field track on the B, so I like the contrast this gives as a format when releasing. However, I’m not strictly wanting to move forward in this style of releasing, I just felt it made sense with these particular tracks and was a nice way to introduce the project. My next release will be a 5/6 track EP that’s broken down into standalone singles for ultimate algorithmic digestibility. 

What can audiences expect in the future from Two Swords?

This latest release set the tone for this new direction I’m going in and I’ve got lots of unreleased material coming out over the rest of the year. I really enjoy the idea of building worlds for the listener. 

Matt, thanks for sitting down with UKF. I think that this is going to be a sick project. I’m looking to see where this new journey takes you.

Make sure to check baja blast / pushback from Two Swords

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