Cyril Hahn has been chopping R&B vocals into electronic compositions for a good while now, ahead of his first European tour and on the back of news he’s signed to PMR we caught up with the man himself to discuss a love of Bonnie Prince Billy, using his Art History degree to dissect music and starting work on his own original compositions…
Your re-working of Destiny’s Child ‘Say My Name’ is almost as popular as the original, yet so different in terms of sound and approach. What made you come up with the idea and how do you go about putting something like that together?
The Destinys Child remix started out as an instrumental and I knew I wanted some 90s R&B be vocals in it. I spent a day trying out a couple of samples but I just wasnt satisfied with any of the results so I gave up. As I shut down my laptop and got ready for bed Say My Name suddenly popped into my head out of nowhere and I knew that it was the sample thats going fit perfectly. I tried it out immediately, it worked and thats how the song was born.
There seems to be quite a pattern forming for you remixing females – HAIM, Solange, Mariah Carey, Jessie Ware, Gabrielle Aplin. Any particular reason for this – do you think your sounds tends to lean itself more to the female vocal?
I never even thought of this but you are right. There must be some subconscious reason why I have been using mostly female acapellas in the past. In the last couple of weeks, however, Ive been working on originals and some of them feature male acapellas so things might change a bit.
Who were the DJs/musicians/creatives that really made an impression on you when you were first getting into music – where did you draw your early inspiration from? What was the music of your teenage rebellion?
I listened to a lot of different things throughout my teenage years. At first it was mostly Punk and Hardcore music, later I started getting interested in Post-Rock, Ambient, Electronic Music and Folk. I think some traces of Post-Rock and Ambient are definitely still audible in my current produciton.
You’re relatively new to the industry, when and how did your involvement with music begin and how did the Cyril Hahn global explosion start?
I started taking piano lessons in elementary school. My parents always thought that music is something really wonderful so Im glad they motivated me to take music lessons early on. In high school I started playing guitar and recorded post rock songs on my computer as I was really into Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai and those kind of bands. I also started playing small shows at that time. Then I got more into Bonnie Prince Billy, Red House painters…that kind of stuff…and started writing folk songs and even picked up the banjo for a bit. About 3 years ago or so I got really bored of my own music and stopped writing completely. About a year ago I decided to give electronic music a try and thats how the Mariah Carey remix came about. I was really content with how it turned out and decided to write another song which ended up being the Destinys Child remix. I didnt anticipate the response for my remixes. I think things got a bit crazier once Diplo or the XX started taking interest in my music.
Are you a kick drum, hi hat or a snare? And why?
Oh man, thats a tough one. Im probably a clap.
Having put out only remixes to date, are there plans for your own material? We hear you may be joining the PMR family?
Ive just recently signed with PMR. I couldnt be happier. Its still unreal to me to think that I am on the same label as Jessie Ware, Disclosure and Julio Bashmore whom Ive been admiring for a while now. Im currently working on originals and I hope to have my first release ready soon. The support from the label has been great so far.
Do you feel there’s a risk of becoming a victim of your own success with your remixes – does the veil of remixing someone else’s work, make it harder to reveal your own productions?
Not really. I usually only use the acapella for remixes so theres plenty of my own production to be heard in the remixes.
Complete the sentence: I’m proper techno because…..
one of the first CDs I bought in elementary school was by Culture Beat
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
That meteor which was seen in Russia today. Been watching video footage all day.
What’s your answer to everything?
Itll be ok.
Do you know Deadmaus, has a mouses’s head, for a head?
I wonder if all the comic heroes get together and laugh about that fact.
Who are some of the artists that you are most excited about in 2013, are there any young producers/musicians you particularly think are going to make a big impact and bring something new?
Ive been saying it all through out last year already but Ryan Hemsworth is definitely one to watch. I also really like that Gerry Read album which came out a couple of weeks ago. Its such a strange approach to house music and I love it.
Just how much do you love pop music and R N’ B?!
I love it as much as I hate it.
This will be the first time you’ve toured Europe, what are you most looking forward to? Any particular places you will be checking out and taking inspiration from?
Im excited for all places but I am not gonna lie, its pretty cool to play the cities Ive never visited on my own before.
If your sound was a visual thing, what would it look like?
a .gif of some sort.
First and last record bought?
1st record was Culture Beat – Serenity because it had Mr Vain on it. Last record was A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory.
Finally, as a DJ/Producer studying fine art, do you find either field has an influence on each other? Could you see yourself getting behind the lense in the future or perhaps designing your cover art?
I studied Art History so it was more about analyzing rather than actively creating artworks. I think my brain dissects a song the same way it would with a painting. I like to pay attention to each different element and layer of a song.
Cyril embarks on his debut European tour this Friday in Oslo, for info on that and all other dates check him out on facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud