From sitting in a religious education class in Wolverhampton in the late 80s listening to Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson to producing his own fine music, Nathan Pope's musical journey has certainly not been the most predictable affair. After becoming disillusioned with the DJ life during the 90s and heading off to focus on his acting, Pope returns under the name Antenna Happy thanks to the birth of his daughter.
With his debut 'Pinto' released earlier this week via new imprint Reinhardt Records, we were fortunate enough to be the first to get an interview with this new persona;
Where are you from, where are you now?
Born in South Wales, grew up in Wolverhampton, living in Brighton.
What was the first electronic record you ever heard? How did it make you feel?
The first one that I remember really hearing, that made a lasting impression on me, was "It is what it is" by Rhythim is Rhythim. It was like nothing I had ever heard before, a completely new world had opened up, it was futuristic and yet there was so much longing in it. And there were no words. I was hooked.
What brings you back to music production?
It is an itch that I have had for years and years, in the end I just had to do it. The birth of my daughter three years ago gave me the kick up the arse that I needed. Perversely, it was a period in my life where I had very little time or energy, but I was going through a lot emotionally, and that kind of fuelled it I guess.
Was it hard to get back into production after such a long hiatus?
I really loved getting back into it. The technology had moved on so much. In the nineties when I was DJing and I released the odd tune here and there, I didn't have a studio, and there was no way could I afford one - I had to blag some time with people who did have studios, and more often than not we didn't get the creative juices right on the day. Its totally different now, I've been able to do it all "in the box", and I have been able to write loads of stuff that, thankfully, will never see the light of day. It's really important to get the crap out of your system. After a while I got to the tracks on the Pinto EP, and I felt confident enough to put them on SoundCloud which is such a great way to get your stuff heard. I was also very lucky to have met Alex (who runs Reinhardt) and Lisa - I had done some edits for their Fleetmac Wood parties, and that really gave me the confidence to go for it with the solo stuff.
How has your sound changed in that time?
Not very much! To be honest, I wasn't involved in enough productions back then to have developed a "sound", but I expect that the tunes I have written so far would not sound out of place in the kind of DJ set that I was doing when I was still playing out every weekend. I don't know if that's good or bad!
You originally left the scene due to disillusionment with scene caused by the rise of the superstar DJ. At a time where EDM is very much part of the mainstream and is pulling in bigger crowds than ever, how do you feel the scene has changed from those days of the 90s?
I don't know, I think I've changed as much as the scene has to be honest. Back then I was an idealistic teenager who really thought it was a revolution. Now I'm fairly weather-worn and a lot more cynical about stuff. It's not new, the argument that things have gone mainstream - back in the nineties I remember people bemoaning the fact that it had all gone too far. That's what happens when something is good - it gets popular, and then inevitably it gets watered down, and it loses something in the transition. The good stuff is always there though, somewhere, just not where you first found it.
Who do you find exciting at the moment? Who are your new influences?
That's hard. There are so many, and my recall is really poor. I always forget people. I love Roman Fluegel's sound - that has really made an impression on me these last few months.
Tools like Bandcamp weren't around when you took a break from music, how do you perceive their impact on the music industry?
I'm really going to sound like an old man here, but when I stopped DJing in the mid-nineties, people didn't really know what the internet was was for, if they had heard of it at all. If you did have it at home, there were no fast connections. The thought of buying or sharing music or any other kind of media using the internet was complete pie-in-the-sky. It has changed beyond all recognition. On the one hand you have this fantastically democratic global arena where anyone can get their stuff heard, anywhere, instantly. On the other you have a global rock brand effectively saying their music is worthless by giving it to everyone who owns iTunes. It's pretty polarising.
Are you planning any sort of live shows or DJ sets to coincide with the release of the new material?
Nothing planned as such, but I'm working on a live show now, I'm really keen to get that going soon.
What was the music of your teenage rebellion?
It's going to sound like such a cliche, but it really was the sound of the UK rave scene - house, techno, and acid. I'd never experienced anything like it and it had a huge impact on my life. Everything changed for me during those years.
If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?
Maybe I'd still be acting. That was my second love.
What’s the next big thing?
Which song do you wish you had written?
Baby Face. I sing it to my daughter.
What’s your motto?
Look after your broom
If your sound was a visual thing, what would it look like?
First and last record bought?
First was Kings of the Wild Frontier by Adam and the Ants, most recent was Whorl by Simian Mobile Disco.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
Are you a kick drum, hi hat or a snare? And why?
I don't know how to answer that! Does anyone?!
What can we expect in the coming months from Antenna Happy?
There are a couple of remixes coming out soon, I've got a load of new material that is almost ready, and of course the live show. Hopefully an album towards the end of next year.