Less is more.
This has always been the case in music. But never more so than now. In an unfiltered world where there’s so much music being released each week that all of us – and our nans, and their dogs – could play a five hour set and not one of us play the same tune, why add to the noise and throw out something simply satisfactory when you could invest more time and thought into something that’s truly special to you and make it stand out from the rest?
This is why Hazard hasn’t released anything since Bricks Don’t Roll in 2014. Of course he’s written some badboy tunes in that time (if you’ve seen him DJ you’ll know a strong proportion of his set is on dub) but nothing that he feels is special enough for him to officially release. It’s not for the want of trying; he admitted in an interview recently that he’d spent three months in the studio and not been (mr) happy with anything…. So he hasn’t returned to his studio since.
Gutting news for fans of his productions? Yes. But also reassuring. This is the reason why his tracks resonate with such chaotic harmony we can all sing along to the bassline: he doesn’t settle for ‘just another banger’ and will wait – for years if he has to – until the time is right.
And while that right time isn’t looking too soon, there’s a whole load of other reasons why Hazard (a self-described grumpy bastard) is actually in a really happy place right now. Thanks to the recent development of his b2b sets with Hype, he’s had to deal with an issue that’s dogged his career for years. Once unable to even think about setting foot on a plane, he’s now able to return to countries he’s not played in over a decade.
Ahead of the 10 year anniversary of Mr Happy, we caught up with Hazard to see how his year’s been so far…
I was going to start by asking you where the hell some new music is. But then I read an interview with you saying you’d spent three months in the studio but didn’t like what you’d made during that time…
Yeah. Three months at the start of the year. I’ve not been back in the studio since.
This is really sad to hear!
It happens man and you have to go with that. It’s happened my whole career. Years ago I’d be like ‘shit! Why I can’t write tunes?’ But now I’m used to it. When I get that feeling I just go ‘ah, one of them again’ and ride it out. When it’s time to go back in again, you feel it and nothing can stop you. It’s a feeling.
Writer’s block is a killer – you hate yourself and drive yourself crazy
I used to think it was writer’s block. But writer’s block is when you’re actually in the studio trying to write. With this I just can’t get in the studio at all. I don’t wanna look at it. I know nothing good will come from sitting in here trying to write. It’s not writer’s block. What would you call it?
Yeah or laziness maybe? I don’t know… But I know if I force it then it’s counterproductive. This is one of the longest bouts of this I’ve had but I’m getting those feelings creeping in like it could be time soon.
What triggers it? A sample you hear or a hook comes into your head?
Anything. A sample, an idea, a moment in life, anything. I’ve had many different ideas or inspirations or things that put me in the mood.
I know you’ve got loads of unreleased tracks – I hear them when I see you and Hype play
Yeah there’s a whole EP ready to go bar one track. I’m just waiting for that one special track to bring it all together. I never got round to finishing that track. So I’ve been playing a load of stuff for a few years and actually wrote a few years before that. They’ve been floating around; I got them, Hype plays them. That’s about it. They might not get released. Some of them might. Who knows?
A lot of people are putting out single tracks because our attention spans are so bad we can’t even handle EPs any more. Ever thought about just dropping cheeky one-trackers?
I could. They’re good for release but I want something special. Not in a massive stand out gimmicky way, but just something that’s special to me. Something I love and don’t care if other people like it or not. It needs to mean something to me. They got to touch me in some way. And hopefully other people.
A year has passed since Bricks got that vocal. How do you feel about that now?
I don’t think about it at all to be honest. It was a case of being offered money for something I’d made and got paid for without me having to do anything. Why not? Kids need feeding and clothes and all that.
Subsidise your studio time a bit…
That’s what it was supposed to do! But obviously that didn’t work. It subsidised my telly watching time.
You have been busy though… Lots more international shows this year.
Yeah I got some mad travel sickness tablets from the doctors now and I can fly again. It’s amazing. I used to play in these countries years ago but haven’t been to them for over 10 years. It’s revolutionary actually.
So you haven’t always been travel sick?
Oh no, I was flying around the place all the time when I was younger. I got sick through exhauastion and too much travelling. DJing is one of the easiest jobs in the world but travelling, for me, is the worst job in the world. I used to be fine – I’d be all over Australia, Brazil, Canada, Russia and that. But then all of a sudden I was sick in a German hospital. Crying. I had panic attacks, depression, anxiety. That was it. It scared the shit out of me and I knocked long haul flights on the head.
Yeah it was down to lack of sleep and way too much caffeine. The doctor told me not to have any more energy drinks because they heighten the anxiety I feel before I fly. I wouldn’t just get anxious about flying but about how sick I would get because of flying. It’s like this endless circle. But yeah these tablets are mental I haven’t been sick once. I’ve been buzzing and really relaxed at these shows. Let It Roll, some Belgium gigs, it’s been great. I don’t get scared about being sick so my vibe isn’t spoilt. Now even bigger or further international shows are on the cards for next year.
Like you said, this is a revolution.
It is! I actually went to the doctor for sleeping tablets so I could have a good night kip before the flight but the doctor said they don’t do that, because sleeping tablets are addictive, instead have these tablets. People who get sickness form leukemia are prescribed them. To know that I can travel, and be relaxed about it, has been amazing and opened up the chances to play even more parties
Last time I spoke to you earlier this year, you said the parties have been the best you’ve ever seen, right?
They have. The next generation who’ve come into the music and the older generation who are still there are rubbing off on each other and really making an effort. A party is only what you make it. Whether you’re a raver or a DJ or whatnot, it seems like people are making an effort to enjoy themselves. That’s how I feel – I look out at the crowd and think ‘did I enjoy this that much when I was younger?’ I don’t think I did!
You are a miserable bastard though
Ha! Yeah but I haven’t always been. I loved partying when I got into this and I don’t think I was as buzzing as the crowds I see now.
Hype mentioned the size of the crowds when we spoke to him earlier this year. The Boomtown one was especially significant, right?
That was mad. We had no idea how big that was until we watched the video. I left thinking ‘yeah it was alright’ He rang me the next day and told me to watch the videos. He said ‘what we saw wasn’t what happened’ When you see the scale of the crowd it’s mental. At the time it was like ‘gig done, let’s go’ It’s like how did we miss that? We were there!
You didn’t enjoy the first few b2bs right?
Nah not really. I think we both thought it was a gimmicky thing but more and more people booked us and were really enjoying it. At first we weren’t into it but when we got our transitions between us smoother it’s really good. It’s natural now and we’ve developed these funny hand signals so we know what we’re both doing. We haven’t practiced them but they work and we know when each other come in. It’s pretty smooth now.
You play on different set-ups, don’t you?
Yeah it’s awkward as hell. He’s on Serato with two decks and a mixer, I’m on four CDJs with a mixer. First we were wired into each other now we’ve got it going into another mixer so we can both play live at the same time if we like. I’m not sure who came up with that. I was just been rolling with it thinking ‘yeah I’m just doing these back to backs, it’s a couple of them get over it, bite your tongue’ but yeah it started working and we realised we were happy now we know what’s going on.
Because both of you love having control and don’t like feeling you’re out of control?
There’s definitely a bit of that. The big difference between us is that I’m grumpy and he’s a moaner. He’ll tell you what he’s not happy about which makes me look the nicest guy in the world. He’ll be moaning at everyone to get things right and I just sit back and smile… I know everything will be right, because he’s moaned, and I look like the good guy.
Good cop / bad cop!
Ha, maybe. Bottom line, it works and loads of people are really interested in booking us. The biggest fear was that I couldn’t do the international shows, because we’re getting some amazing invitations to play around the world, but now even that’s not an issue because of my travel sickness tablets.
You might not be able to face the studio but at least you can face flying!
This is it. Without being over the top, it has actually changed my life. And don’t worry about the studio stuff, that’ll pass, it always does. I’m getting those odd thoughts and feelings again… It won’t be long, trust me.