Josh White and Matt Lowe started the year with their first UK headline tour. They finished it doing something no other D&B act has done so far… They sold out Printworks in 24 hours with no other names on the line-up but theirs.
Somewhere in between these achievements they also sold out Electric Brixton, played to some of the biggest crowds to date at festivals this summer, put out a steady flow of self-released singles, collaborated with the likes of Koven, InsideInfo, Fred V and Tomas Oliver and gave the world stinking remixes by the likes of Particle and Levela.
It’s one of the most consistent and impressive rises in recent drum & bass years. And with Printworks happening next March, we suspect next year will see even more ambitious level-ups as the soulful UK duo continue to hit new heights. But first, let’s get up to speed on Hybrid Minds’ best year to date…
Last time we spoke was around your Koven collaboration for UKF10. That kicked off the year for you guys…
Matt: Yeah, we’ve been massive fans of Katie and Max. Katie fits our tracks perfectly. And we were proud to be part of that album. It was great to be one of earliest releases in the UKF10 series, it was wicked to be part of.
It’s been a very collabo-focused year for you guys. Tomas Oliver was the next singer you linked up with…
Josh: Yeah we know him from touring New Zealand but he lives in The Netherlands.
Matt: I played a Blackout night and we had a few drinks and chatted about. Bit of a random one for us but a really fun one.
Josh: We’ve always rated him and thought he was great on his Logistics collaborations in the past and we wanted to do a track together. He did the guitar and vocals for it, he’s an amazing acoustic artist in his own right.
Matt: Yeah we love what he does and we wanted him to send us a proper tune that we could add our parts to. Like a collaboration and not just a feature spot.
Josh: Just asking someone to add a feature can be a very dry process. We want to bounce ideas and ignite creativity and make something special together.
The next single Higher Love was special. It landed just in time for summer. Pretty sure that wasn’t a coincidence…
Josh: We wanted a summer tune. We’d done a string of tracks which were quite ambient and had long intros so we wanted to do something more uplifting.
Matt: It was our take on things we were playing in our sets. Simple, upbeat, not as deep as other tracks of ours.
Josh: That’s been our biggest track this year. It’s picked up the singalong vibes in the club.
You’ve been seeing that more and more haven’t you?
Matt: Yeah I started doing it in New Zealand. I could vaguely hear people singing in the background, I turned down the booth to see and could hear them properly. I’d had a few drinks, so I turned down the volume and let them sing. It was mad. I’d never done it before.
Then came the Particle remix!
Josh: Yeah, it’s great to have the new generation guys come along and put their perspective on the tracks. We’re massive fans of guys like Particle, so to have them turn the tracks into monsters is amazing.
Matt: Great ammo for our sets, too. It’s nice to get someone from a different genre to put a spin on things.
Josh: We’ve been chucking out our tracks of people we meet and we like. If they want to do a remix then double thumbs up.
Double thumbs up for the InsideInfo collaboration for the Let It Roll opening show soundtrack as it goes…..
Josh: Paul is a wizard.
Matt: He’s a technical genius.
Josh: We work really well together. We bring the melodic side to it and Paul can go in on his processing and get inspired by that and come in with some monstrous bass. Then we sprinkle icing on the cake and pretty it up. It’s inspiring working with him in the studio. We’d love to make more with him in the future. But yeah, we did that track for the opening show. Seeing that stage choreographed to the track was spectacular. It’s a major part of the festival and mad to be part of. I actually saw some of the firework display from behind the stage which was the most dangerous place to be.
It was a pretty mad crowd there for your set too later, too…
Josh: The turn-out was immense. We were blown away and massively speechless at points. It’s been our busiest festival run for sure.
Did crowds like that inspire you to book the Printworks event?
Josh: Definitely. A few things inspired us: the UK tour we did at the beginning of this year, and the fact that fully sold out motivated us first. We did 12 dates and some cities we did two dates in because the shows sold out so early. And the second ones sold out again. We were nervous wrecks before they went on sale.
Matt: They sold way better and quicker than we ever imagined. It was our first tour where it was just us and not us playing on stacked line-ups. That was a career highlight. Knowing people had all come to see us was a bit surreal experience.
So after the tour you thought about Printworks…
Josh: No, we thought about Electric Brixton and then that sold out.
Matt: We kinda wondered about Printworks maybe the end of next year or the year after. But it’s all happened so quickly.
Josh: It’s all a bit mental. Now we need a new plan. But I’m looking forward to taking over printworks with a liquid sound and using the space for that.
Printworks hasn’t had that before has it?
Josh: Yeah I think that’s why it’s done well too. It’s a bit different from other D&B events there. We’re equal parts excited and shitting our pants about it!
What do you think about a potentially resurgence of liquid in the next year or two?
Josh: It’s hard to predict these things but I hope so! What we’ve definitely got right now though, is the fact that there’s just a lot of healthy new artists coming through on all sides. Maybe more liquid and jump up, not so much techy, but I can see it happening.
Matt: Yeah there’s no really dominant trend is there? Especially when you’re DJing. It’s all just turning back to just all being drum & bass. It’s refreshing after all the pigeonholing that’s been going on. It’s quite an elitist bullshit attitude. We make what we like and we play what we like. And luckily that goes down well for us. Some people expect us not to play so heavy, but the vast majority get it. We go up and down in the sets.
Josh: People go to nightclubs to have fun. That’s the whole point. Not to fold your arms and stroke your beard then complain. You shouldn’t be judged for the music you make, you either like it or not and I do think there’s a much healthier attitude towards that.
Amen. So your final collab this year was Drowning In You with Fred V…
Matt: We’ve been speaking to him for a long time. Our sounds lend themselves to each other well.
Josh: With Fred V and Grafix stopping this year they’ve had more time to be able to go in different directions and do their own thing. It felt like the right time to do the collaboration.
And the right time for a Levela remix!
Josh: We’ve known him for years. Since our jump up days.
Matt: I actually did a collab with him many years ago. It’s not one you want to hear. We’ve come a long way since!
Josh: It’s great to see him break out and make all kinds of things. His releases on Critical have been smashing it. He’s come a long way and he’s going to carry on smashing it. He’s not moved a million miles away from where he was, really. He’s just adapted to the techier sound. Everyone can play his tunes.
Matt: It’s bit like what Hazard’s always done. He’s done his own thing. He’s never been one sound, you never know what to expect from his tunes and I think that’s what Levela is doing too.
You’ve just compared Levela to Hazard. He’ll be well happy with that! Who else you feeling in general?
Josh: I’m getting excited by all the newcomers; Kanine, Bou, AC13. Monrroe has had a strong year. It feels like there’s a lot of new exciting producers this year that have come out of nowhere and they’re giving the scene a proper kick up the arse. Chase & Status’s RTRN II Jungle has inspired people a lot too. It’s proof you can go balls-to-the-wall and not get too caught up in the production technicalities and just focus on the vibe.
How about Hybrid Minds vibes next year, though?
Josh: We’ve got some cool collabs coming next year which we’re really excited about. We’re working with an artist at the minute, we can’t say who but we’re really big fans of so can’t wait to get that one out. It’s good to have our feet in that place from where we came from and the music we like listening to and got inspired by. We’re doing that a lot right now; getting our heads down, getting inspired and just writing as much as we can and seeing what we’re coming up with. It’s exciting…