Belgium has been giving great musicians, festivals to the world but not only the country’s noted artists have talent in making electronic music. Hiraeth is a relatively little-known name in the scene at the moment, but it seems like he has been gaining momentum in the last couple of years. He is one of the new presenters of a generation in the uplifting, emotional, liquid side of drum and bass and we interviewed him about his love for the genre, his motivation and journey through this energetic music.
Download: IPC Mix .86 – Hiraeth
Can you introduce yourself to us a little bit?
My real name is Lander, I live in Ghent, a city in the north of Belgium and I’m a Drum and Bass DJ/Producer under the alias of Hiraeth. I guess most of my tracks belong to the softer, more atmospheric side of the drum and bass spectrum, so I’m allowed to say that I’m a liquid producer. I’ve been doing music production for about 4 years now (DJing for about 2 years) and I do it in my free time as I also work full time for a company in Brussels. Before I got into producing music, I was playing electric and bass guitar in a rock band, then I switched to electronic music and drum and bass.
Your name is a Welsh word which cannot be adequately translated. But if I’m right, it means you’re missing something or someone, they often use it to describe homesickness. Why did you choose it? How does it relate to you?
Yep, that’s what it means. Well, I switched names about 3 years ago, which didn’t matter at the time because I had very little music released. My name back then was Orion, which appeared to belong to someone else from the same genre. He threatened to sue me (true story), which is hilarious considering that I had like one release out at the time. While looking for a new name, I stumbled upon the word Hiraeth. I liked the way it looked, but the meaning also related very much to the music I made and still make today. Most of my tunes sound quite emotional, dreamy and that relates to the meaning of the word Hiraeth.
Why Drum and Bass? And why liquid? I mean, it certainly has its popularity these days. Also, there are a lot of amazing artists in the DNB scene from Belgium, just to mention Netsky or Nexus & Tight and of course Alix Perez. Did these people inspire you to come into drum and bass music? Do you have any musical background?
I was introduced to the genre when I was about 19 years old, which is relatively late to get into a type of music. Before that, I was really into hard rock and metal, reggae but also just pop music in general. My first encounter with drum and bass was through Pendulum. They appealed to me because of their energetic live performances (I saw them live in AB Club in Brussels in 2009 when they promoted their upcoming Immersion album which had the Watercolour track on). You could say that they are/were a combination of rock and bass music, maybe a bit like The Prodigy. For metalheads, Pendulum was a good way to get to know a bit of drum and bass. After that, in 2010 Netsky broke out in Belgium: he was all over the place, you could hear his tracks everywhere and he kind of started a drum and bass/dubstep hype here. I listened to his first album Netsky 1 and I was hooked into his liquid sound. It’s still one of my favourite albums to date. From there I started digging deeper in the genre and discovered Calibre, Spectrasoul, Alix Perez to name a few. I also found Liquicity’s Youtube channel and events. Considering those influences, it’s not so weird that I mainly make liquid drum and bass. I guess it’s just what I like and have liked the most in this genre. It’s nice to make a banger, but I feel that could get boring quickly. When I make music, I want to express emotions and deal with my own at the same time. It feels like therapy sometimes, so that’s the place music has had in my life. Whether it’s making it or listening to it…
Alongside amazing artists, your country has the world’s largest electronic music festival as well, which had your name amongst the headliners too for this year. I know it’s not going to happen anytime soon as the world is facing this pandemic but were you excited about it? What were you planning to give to the audience there?
Belgium indeed has some amazing artists in general, but of course also in the drum and bass sphere. Next to names like Netsky, there’s a vast underground scene with artists like Phase, Bredren, M-Zine, Scepticz, One87, Cedex & Higher Underground and so on. I’ve always felt blessed to have such an amazing scene in Belgium. And it’s even better to be a little part of it. It was Jurgen (One87) who booked me for Star Warz x Tomorrowland. It’s also special because I’ve discovered the club side of the genre through his Star Warz events. It’s a pity that there’s going to be no festivals or events during this summer because of the Coronavirus pandemic but there’s nothing we can do about it but to follow the safety measures for now. The full line up has been moved to next year’s edition so that’s good because I was really looking forward to be playing there! I’m going to play alongside Shire and he’s also a liquid guy so the crowd can expect a lot of liquid and unreleased tunes from us. However, I always like to mix it up with some harder/minimal stuff too. It’s important to keep it interesting when you’re playing out live and I just love darker stuff as well.
You also get strong support from Liquicity at the moment. You were going to play Liquicity festival as well for the second time this year. When did your collab start with the label?
Yep, I’m very grateful for that. My love for Liquicity started a long time ago as I mentioned before but I haven’t been working with them for that long. I remember sending them some demos in the summer of 2018. To my big surprise, they got back to me and told me that Take Your Soul Away and Ophelia (a release together with Low:r on Atmomatix in 2018) was on repeat in their headquarters! Boudewijn (A&R of Liquicity) invited me to the Festival in 2018 and I got to meet him. It all went from there, I kept sending demos and they signed two tracks of mine on the Galacy LP. Then I started working on a solo EP for Galacy and there’s a lot more to come.
Can you tell us about your new EP on their sister label, Galacy? It sounded something that came from you. Most people at the beginning of their musical journey tend to release a mixture of different sounds as they don’t know what direction is theirs.
Thanks a lot. Well, to be fair, sometimes it seems to me that I make a mixture of different sounds but people say that they recognize my sound. So that’s a good thing. I’m very inspired by the more old school liquid, like Calibre, Tokyo Prose, LSB, so I suppose that’s the direction I’m pushing towards with my own music. I tend to use a lot of samples from all kinds of sources and recycle from old school breaks. But I still try to bring something original to the table: interesting chord progressions, unique samples. I’ve really worked some time on the EP and I didn’t just want to put together 4 tracks without a story. While The Swift is on the heavier side, Nightglow is very mysterious and a dreamy liquid track. I Will then has a cool piano sample in it that complements well with the vocals of Phoebe Freya, so it’s a more classic piece of liquid. Live & Learn then is probably the most liquid track out of all, with those reverb-drenched vocals of LaMeduza on them. They complement each other. There are some other tracks I’ve made during that period and they have a similar vibe. Considering that the EP has been received really well, I expect the best for those tunes when they see the daylight.
How would you describe your style to someone who never heard of you? What makes you Hiraeth?
I think my music could be described as emotional and uplifting. I’m not the type of guy who spends hours creating synth pitches or EQ’ing kicks, but I try to express genuine feelings in my tracks. Usually, I will start from a sample or chord progression that sticks with me and build soundscapes on top of that. I like to use old school breaks and basslines too, so that definitely defines my sound. And there’s usually some kind of vocal involved because that really speaks to me. It’s probably the most beautiful instrument there is.
What’s your favourite track of yours and why?
That has to be Nightglow. I had always wanted to make a track that was simple and conveyed a powerful feeling with just some chords. I think I managed to do that with this tune. That’s why I look up to artists like Calibre, LSB, Anile or Lenzman. They use little elements to fill their tracks with, which makes them very powerful and clean at the same time. I’m definitely aiming towards making more tracks like that.
Are you working on any project with anyone at the moment? If you could make a track with anyone, who would it be?
Yes, I’m working on a couple of tracks with Ben (Low:r) who I’ve been working with for a long time, Jay Dubz, and Jaye Siege who have become good friends of mine. But I’m also working on a lot of my tracks for the next solo project. The only thing that I’ve got to learn is to finish those tracks, but I think I’m becoming better at that. Start a solid idea, then put it away for some time to get a fresh take on it. I’ve also started to make more and more own compositions as of lately, and depend less on samples… I think it’s the next step in my journey as a music producer.
If I could choose a producer to work with, it would be Calibre because he is such a good producer and musician. It’s nice to be able to dream, since that would never happen, haha!
What do you go for when you write a track? Is that a certain vibe or feeling that you want to give to the audience or you just go where the idea takes you?
It’s a combination of that really, but it always starts with a feeling, a kind of vibe that makes you excited. As I said, that could be a chord progression or an interesting instrumental sample. It’s hard to predict where a track will go when you start it. It could take a few hours to finish it or maybe months or years. It depends. The best tracks however for me are the ones that are finished in a really short period of time. However, lately, I’ve been digging up some older projects that I thought sounded pretty bad at the time but that’s just because you over listen to it. If you let a musical piece rest for some time, you can find a new love for it or new ideas to finish it off.
What are your goals as a musician?
To make more music and to get the chance to play my music out more. Expressing myself and creating has always been something I feel like I wanted to do, so I think I will be doing art in some way my whole life. I’ve finally moved into a new place and I’m slowly collecting more gear to be able to create better music. Can you believe that I’m only now buying my first synthesizer? Before that, I used to play everything on my computer keyboard and figure out chords mostly online. This way of working allows me to make more own compositions and it’s really exciting to see how much more freedom it gives me. I’m also creating a bit of a studio in my room so I’m looking forward to where that’s going to take me. I want to play more live too, although it still kind of frightens me to get on stage! Let’s just hope that this corona crisis will be over soon.
What can we expect from you in the future?
In 2020 there are some beautiful things lined up. In June I will release a 4-track EP on Fokuz Recordings and other tracks are coming on Galacy/Liquicity which I can’t be too explicit about for now. Next to that some really nice collaborations on beautiful labels, which again I can’t tell too much about, haha.
And at this moment I’m working on a lot of new music and I’m feeling quite inspired. So that should result in the next solo project soon!
I have a little challenge for you… Name your 5 absolute favourite DNB tracks of all time!
That’s a really difficult question. Because it always changes and it depends on my mood or the music but I’ll do my best to make a list of the top 5 as I’m feeling it right now:
- Calibre – Windows
- Marcus Intalex & ST Files – Lose Control
- Submorphics – Long Gone
- LSB – Sketch of My Sweetheart
- Netsky – Lost Without You
What’s the most interesting fact that you could tell people about yourself?
I’m not sure what to say so I’m just going to say something very random here. But I used to be interested in birds, all different kinds. I would have gone to the forest and spot them with binoculars. So up to this day, I’m able to almost recognize every type of bird by looking at the way they fly. Maybe I should use that as an opening line when I go on a date next time, haha!
You have done a nice mix for us too. Is there anything you would like to tell us about it before people click the play button?
This mix is a combination of a few of my own dubs, new tunes that I dig and older classics that I listen to a lot and that have inspired my taste for the genre over the years, I hope you will enjoy it.
Calibre – Think On
Javano – Love Too Much
LSB & DRS – Could Be
Skeptical – 8am to 1am
Breakage – Elmhurst Dub
Low:r – Get Movin’ (Break Time)
Random Movement – Future Fondler
ID – ID
Hiraeth & MC Siege – ID
Satl – Self Reflection
Hiraeth – Waiting
Monrroe – Horizon (ft. Jinadu)
Edlan – Whatever You Said
Critical Event & Hiraeth – I Wonder
Dawn Wall – Blinded
Hiraeth & Subsequent – ID
Hiraeth – ID
LSB – Tripped
Ed:it – Babylon Step
Simplification & Hiraeth – ID
Technimatic – Sphere
Dustkey – Hidden Love (Hiraeth & Sektor & Subsequent remix)
Technimatic – Holding On (ft. Matt Wilson)
Macca & Loz Contreras – Against The Wall (FD remix)
Silence groove – Midnight steps
ID – ID