To be honest, I cannot think of any introduction that would do justice to today’s master of sonic wizardry. Originally from Washington DC, he started pushing his own sound after moving to Prague; and from 2009 on when Kasra issued his debut single on Critical his story is one of massiveness and marvel. Spreading his genuine blend of deep rolling sounds with an unparalleled rhythmical understanding and matchless clarity via a variety of appraised labels such as Metalheadz, Subtitles and even Noisia’s Invisible imprint, his newest piece -the Gravitron EP released on Dispatch, reviewed here– impressively continues his aspiration after those worlds unheard and emotions unfelt. Fortunately, Hybris managed to take some time off his blazing aural proceedings to offer us some insights into his music, perspectives and one or two minds.
Subsphere: You’ve recently released another acclaimed EP on Dispatch and are currently on tour in the US: How are you?
Hybris: Doing well thanks! Busy as usual, but have been enjoying producing a lot lately.
The Gravitron EP’s title hints what you might have aimed for, but I do feel tempted to ask: is there some deeper meaning incorporated in the grooves and framework of the EP? Like, what’s your vision for Gravitron?
For me there wasn’t any specific underlying meaning from which the EP evolved, but rather the EP came together as a unified whole after trying a few different directions and deciding what really stuck together best. The name Gravitron was something that just popped into my head after finishing that song. I thought it was a really clean track with weighty sounds, and somehow it brought to mind images of some gigantic machinery in space, artificial gravity, man-made orbiting equipment, etc. Somehow Gravitron seemed to make sense, and John Aronson’s artwork was pretty much exactly the image I had in mind, he absolutely nailed it on that, with almost no creative direction on my part!
Losing It and especially the fabulous Uproot see you expanding your sound in some cruder yet immensely powerful ways; what made you aspire in their direction?
I’ve always been into harder music, but as Hybris have mostly been working on deeper, more minimal things. Both Losing It and Uproot come from my earlier influences, though they were made at very different times. Losing It was actually the older of the two, and is a bit hyperactive, and Uproot was me trying to get back to the hard and dirty breakbeats that originally inspired me to start making dnb.
Head to Toe even sees you leave the range of dnb’s 170s: are you generally planning on broadening your output’s spectre?
I most certainly am. Head to Toe was the first of a few experiments at 140, and I’ve been working all over the place in terms of tempo. To be honest, I’m not sure why I’ve stayed around 170 exclusively for so long, drum and bass was one of my first loves, but before I became obsessed with it I was really into music from all across the board. So I’m glad to be doing more of that again.
What do you actually appreciate about dnb especially, where do you see its limitations and how do you imagine the genre’s future?
I’ve always loved the syncopated rhythms and heavy bass in drum and bass. When I was a teenager I just couldn’t get into anything without some sort of hacked up amen or really mangled percussion. If it didn’t have those things, I thought it was boring and stupid. Now I feel much differently about all of that, I’ve developed much more of an appreciation for subtlety and repetition. Having said that, I’ll always be obsessed with percussive intricacy and precision, and I feel 170 is a great tempo to really explore those things.
I don’t really see any inherent limitations in the dnb as a genre, but sometimes in smaller genres the expectations of what should be done tend to create unnecessary boundaries and limit what can be done with any degree of success. Fortunately, I see a lot of those boundaries dissolving these days, and that’s great.
As far as the future of dnb, I’ve got high hopes for it! There’s so much great stuff around, so much new talent, and so many great sounds coming out from established producers, that I think dnb is the best it’s been in years. I hope in the future dnb becomes less of an exclusive club of a scene and more of a healthy, idea exchanging, evolving genre, which is where I think it’s going, and that’s great.
When you make music, do you try to express something particular or do you tend towards the audiophile type, getting lost in sounds and their beauty?
For me it works both ways, but usually a big part of my process is getting so lost in the tune that eventually something I didn’t mean to create emerges from the chaos. It’s these kind of emergent properties that I find to be really special in music. Many musicians would like to think at some level that they are geniuses and have intentionally created everything that is interesting in a tune, but I view production as a collaboration between myself and the computer.
Would you care to give us some insights into your creative process? What inspires you?
Sometimes I’m really inspired by new plugins or concepts in production, but that only happens every so often. Sometimes I’m inspired by emotions, but until recently have had a very hard time translating those into tunes. More recently I’ve been doing some more melodic things, and have started to notice that emotions tend to show themselves in the music. I start by just tinkering, making sounds, trying new techniques etc. Then eventually the song starts to show its face and I work on fleshing the idea out and honing in on what’s important.
So what are your major current influences (in- and outside dnb)?
Have really been enjoying Robot Koch, constantly rediscovering various 90’s hip hop, love Squarepusher and Amon Tobin.
And the last 3 records that you listened to?
Finally, what are your plans and wishes for the future?
I hope I can continue to do what I love and that it be appreciated enough to keep a roof over my head and food on my plate for a while.
1. Hybris – Understand Now
2. Calyx & Teebee – Elevate This Sound
3. Homemade Weapons – Eyesore
4. Hybris – Bossa Nouveau
5. Lockjaw – Flatline
6. Hybris – Gravitron
7. Abstract Elements – Saturn
8. Quadrant & Iris – Depth Sounder
9. Dabs – Objection
10. Hybris – Bug Thump
11. Noisia & The Upbeats – Clamber
12. Chris Octane – Synthetics
13. Sabre & Cern – Pinch Me
14. Hybris – Face of Change
15. Brain Crisis – Space Stone
16. Amoss – Dilate
17. Hybris – Agent
18. Hybris – Head to Toe