Interview by Marc KetsClive Astin aka Clyde hails from the unassuming town of Derby in the heart of the Midlands where in his teens he was in several local bands before playing an integral role in the setting up of Mantis Recordings for whom he remixed Atjazz on their first ever release.
The debut Clyde album ‘Hyper Reality' is finally complete after it seems like an age since the debut single 'Serve it Up' was released which featured San Francisco-based rapper Capitol A and came with the club-destroying Brooks remix that seemed to be played by all and sundry and for a while almost revitalized hip-house. Clyde is certainly a talented producer but for my money he doesn’t release nearly as many records as he should.
You're from Derby. How does the city influence your work?
Derby influences my work in so far as it drives me insane. Derby has its friendly charms, but it’s also an apathetic large town, masquerading as a potential top 10 city. Frustration and manic nervous energy is the result of hailing from Derby I think. Although my musical influences on a whole are mainly American, Derby influences my music by proxy in so far as I probably write music as a form of escapism, from Derby itself.
You were apart of The Underdogs. Are there any particular memories from your time touring with the likes of Dr. & The Medics that you'd like to share?
As the Underdogs, we were a bunch of adolescent teens, then late teens with a pretty keen interest in 70’s Punk, 80’s new wave and DIY hair dying, shaving and spiking. Rebels without a cause, or a clue, we relished in ‘getting pissed’ and being obnoxious at every opportunity. It was undeniably fun. Stories to account scrape the barrel of immaturity I’m afraid and generally orbit around booze, breaking things and calling people names. Brilliant.
The only thing I can really remember about supporting Doctor and the Medics was the fact that, in the spirit of Spinal Tap, I always tried to turn up my overdrive pedal to that infamous 11 setting which resulted in my guitar feeding back at Banshee-like levels, preventing me from playing properly.
Why did you help set up Mantis and have you been pleased with its output thus far?
It was back in 96. I was friends with the other guys for years and had been writing and producing for some time, so it was a logical route to take to do something I had a passion for and work with friends. In honesty, I did not do a whole lot founding Mantis and drifted away for some years, but then began to release my own music through Mantis and then later, my input increased in a Marketing and business capacity. I think the output of Mantis has been fantastic and quite an accomplishment. As the music industry has moved more and more into stormy waters, as of late, Mantis has managed to regroup and in effect re-launch with a fresh exiting schedule of releases. 2009 should see the label excel itself, so watch this space…
How did you start working with Capitol A?
Martin ‘Atjazz’ Iveson had become quite an associate of the Berlin crowd, in particular Jazzanova, with whom Capitol A had recorded with for their debut LP. Martin hooked us up. Cap’ was over in the UK working with Dego, so we hauled him up to Derby on a Midland Mainline special, introduced him to the horrors of Derby at kicking out time and then worked on some tunes.
For a brief time the two of you basically resurrected hip house with your single Serve It Up that spawned a hundred imitators but none of which can still be played today and absolutely slay a dancefloor like your cut can. What were the initial thoughts behind this track?
The music came first. After the end of a long term relationship, I made a concerted effort to work on my music more to get over the crazy bit*h. I am a hip hop man at heart but my social life was gravitating more and more around clubbing and it was only natural to start partnering my approach to hip hop writing with the looser, more soulful, darker side of house.
We had a couple of days in the studio with Cap’ and we wanted our lyrics to have a little of everything; We wanted to write from the perspective of a character we thought of. This is the cocksure, borderline-arogant guy in the club we hear in Serve it Up. I wanted to sprinkle on a nice little chorus hook, so we then called the amazing Jane Hamilton who certainly came up with the goods.
What is it like working with Brooks, and were you happy with your own forays behind the mic that appeared on his album Red Tape?
I really enjoyed working with Brooks. He is actually related to me, but actually is not at all. In no way whatsoever (apart from through the Hominidae family). I just went to school with his brothers ex girlfriend and used to enjoy mock-vomiting a whole chewed up pack of Lovehearts in front of her at the bus stop. Creating our colab’s for Red Tape came rather easy and was quite pleasant, if but slightly out of my own musical comfort zone. My favourite was Do The Math. There are many less original tracks in the world. Creating it was gratifying, as was the subsequent relative success it enjoyed.
Why did it take so long for Broken Slang to come out? We were all chomping at the bit for it after hearing it on Gilles' show.
Broken Slang was written not that long after Serve it Up. It was due for release in 05, but then one of the Mantis partners took an unhealthy interest in heroin, alcoholism and we all suffered from the deceit, fraud and worry that comes along with it. Lots of ‘umming and aring’ regarding monies owed, long trips to lavatories etc did not make for sound business practice etc.
Your remix of Raise the Dead is immense. Were you pleased by the dancefloor reaction to it?
It’s always gratifying to get good feedback, even from just one person, but especially your nan (from beyond the grave, via a Ouija Turntable). I wrote that remix wearing one of my mums 1980’s ‘power dressing’ skirt-suits with extra big shoulder pads whilst drinking Bacardi and Panda Cola.
Who are your influences?
Stevie Wonder, Dilla, a lot of Stonesthrow artists, Mr Scruff (remixes), Premier, The Damned, Atjazz, MJ, Steps and many many more…
Tell us about your album Hyper Reality.
Hyper Reality relates to those moments when your humour and imagination bleed into reality, you know, like the time you and your mate quipped about the imaginary transvestite in the wheelchair and then 6 months later, through an alcoholic blur in a club one night, low and behold, there he(she) is, going for it on the dancefloor. Well that’s where the themes for my artwork come from and for the track Lady Cadava. Lady Cadava is about two mental out-patients. On the exterior, they seem harmless enough, but they’ve found a corpse in the park. Give it a listen. It’s very uplifting.
Music wise, I have been a bit stubborn and resisted fitting comfortably into genres. I really liked elements of the broken beat scene and the Detroit hip hop scene, but didn’t want to create a ‘Now that’s What I call Broken Beat Volume 1’ album, or produce a ‘Detroit Hip Hop By Numbers’ release. One thing that Hyper Reality does revolve around though is loose dirty beats, healthy servings of heavy bass and some very twisted samples and analogue synths.
According to all the magazines this is meant to be the year for Deep House. What do you think? Are we due a revival of sorts?
There’s hopefully going to be an ‘acceleration’ in the output of quality Deep House as attention turns back to it. Deep House didn’t go away. It might have stagnated a little and hidden in the park with a bottle of cooking sherry. Its had its fair share of distractions in the shape of some short lived faddy scenes. The creative forces behind the genre seem to be moving from strength to strength. Artists like Karizma, Osunlade, Casa Mena, Domu and our own Atjazz all seem to be on a roll nowadays, so I’m sure Deep House will be more prevalent in the 0-9.
What is a jerk-beat?
Jerk beat is absolutely nothing to do with Caribbean cuisine, sugar production, nor attacking an unpopular person. It’s just something that former label manager, Nick Morley, penned in a press release for Hyper Reality describing in a tongue and cheek fashion the loose, un-quantised feel to my music. He was usually so good with the English language.
What is it like working with Martin Iveson?
Working with Martin Iveson is like the opening credits of Fame (the series). Martin is like Lydia Grant, prepping and shouting clichés about how tough breaking into the industry is and the degree to which I must apply myself to it. I am like a cross between nerdy keyboard impresario Bruno Martelli and maverick dancing talent, Leroy Johnson, except I am neither black nor jewish and Martin is neither a woman nor a man. He stands over me with a stick shouting ‘more bass’ and ‘how many times do I have to tell you to loosen up the damn quantise?”. I only get fed when my beats bounce so much that we’re sick.
He’s been a big help in the studio with the final engineering, getting the balance in the low-end and injecting life into the final mix-downs. I always like to use his bat-like ears in the latter stages of everything I do. He takes no money from me and I often ask him how I can repay him for his hard work. He just laughs insanely and screams ‘You will see’. It can put a bit of a dampener on any session, but turn up Hyper Reality and you’ll see why I put myself through his bullying, abuse and violence.
What does this year have in store for you?
This year, I’m going to produce a second album. The demo tracks I’ve been working on are more R’n’b with me singing quite a bit. It will all seem much, much clearer after several bottles of Old Peculiar. I expect this will be coming out early next year.
One of my favourite tracks from Hyper reality is Read My Mind. We’re doing it as a single and it contains a very tasty HEarin’ Aid mix which I believe you guys have rinsed a few times, I thank you!
Another single from the album might be Lady Cadava and we might do a full on release of Roll of the Beast with some tasty remixes.
I’m working with Atjazz on tracks for three separate projects that should rear their dirty-sexy heads in the second half of the year.
Marc Kets, Apr 2009
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