31 July 2009
Hidden Cat is one of the more exciting underground producers that truly has not received that attention that he deserves. Hailing from Raleigh, North Carolina, he produces great tracks with a very healthy mix of House and Electro. A few months ago, I discovered that this producer that I've been keeping my eye on for over a year happened to share a mutual friend with me by the name of Jared Paul (check our post about him HERE). And that led to this post, so we're proud to present our interview with Hidden Cat:
Apes With Barrels: Isn't it supposed to be Hidden Dragon?
Hidden Cat: I used to design t-shirts in high school. I would press like 15 and sell them for like a twenty dollar profit. I always wanted to make a black shirt with two cat eyes on it. I thought if I started putting out music under the name "Hidden Cat" it would give me an excuse to make the shirt. Some one reminded me later that "Cats" the musical already has that as their logo, but it was too late. It has spawned some good nicknames though.
AwB: Are you Surkin? Because this picture certainly suggests that you are:
HC: I don't know about all that. I'm pretty sure I'm not Surkin, though we have a similar setup. He's got like 4 years on me or something believe it or not. If I could claim Radio Fireworks as my own I would, trust me.
AwB: What got you into Electronic music?
HC: This band from Chicago, TRS-80. I used to be way more into indie rock and crazy time signatures and jazz, then I heard TRS-80 in the 8th grade when they released "Shake Hands With Danger", which is still one of my favorite albums. They do more breaks and dub and experimental stuff, but that eventually led to Four Tet when "Rounds" came out in 2003, which eventually led to Trentemøller when "The Last Resort" came out in 2006, which eventually introduced me to the four-on-the-floor world. I still love all the indie rock and crazy time signatures and stuff too, by the way. I'm definitely part of the most recent generation of electronic music lovers.
AwB: You have got to be the only producer from North Carolina that I've ever heard of. Is there a scene for this sort of stuff there? Any guys from the area that we should be checking out?
HC: There's a GREAT small local label for electronic music, located in Durham. It's called FrequeNC records. They've got some real innovative folks putting out some crazy sounds these days. Especially check out Datahata and EAR PWR. There's also an annual week-long electronic music festival that takes place in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Durham called Signalfest. It covers a whole lot of genre's and is getting bigger every year. The scene is still pretty small though. Around here, the whole Justice thing has really gotten a lot of people into electronic music who wouldn't normally be interested. That's helping out a fair amount.
AwB: I found out who you were during the Fifth Of Beethoven incident. I noticed how you commented on every blog that posted it, which must have been a huge pain in the ass. Would you care to explain what brought you to try to recreate the remix, and did it help with your exposure?
HC: Yeah that was a mistake I'll never make again. I had heard the Soulwax mix in Justice's set for Fader, and seen a YouTube video of 2manydjs playing it or something. Anyway, I really wanted to play it out and couldn't find it anywhere. I realized everything in the Soulwax mix except the drums was just cut up samples of the Walter Murphy original, so I decided to chop it up myself in the same way. It was a real unpolished mix, I stole drums from a SebastiAn track and everything, and I made up a completely different ending because I couldn't hear the ending of the original Soulwax mix anywhere. Anyway I later saw other people online saying they wanted the Soulwax mix, so I offered them my mix. Somewhere along the way my version got mis-labeled as the real Soulwax mix and uploaded in a torrent of all the Soulwax remixes. Bloggers downloaded that, and that's sort of where the confusion began. As far as exposure, it definitely helped out. Once blogs started correcting the labeling error, my other stuff got started getting passed around a little more.
AwB: What equipment/software do you use to produce/DJ?
HC: For production, I use Cubase and Reason. For DJing I use Traktor and a UC-33e.
AwB: What would be your ideal setup?
HC: I want Cubase 5 with no bugs, I also want really expensive microphones and soundproofing.
AwB: Do you like to prepare sets for your parties, or do you prefer to mix on the spot?
HC: I definitely do all the mixing on the spot. I think reading the crowd is as important of a skill as is technical ability in DJing. I definitely have tunes that I plan to fit into a set going in, and I remember mixes that work especially well, but for the most part its whatever I think the listeners would vibe with the most.
AwB: What's been your favorite gig to date?
HC: I played a wild and crazy house party in Boone, North Carolina early this year. It was small enough that I knew about half the people there, but big enough that we shook the ventilation shaft off the ceiling (falling onto my laptop and spraying it with obscene amounts of dust, I might add).
AwB: What's been your worst?
HC: New Years Eve this year. DJed a party outside. It was so miserably cold I was wearing heavy duty gloves when I didn't have to mix.
AwB: I definitely hear that 'French' sound in your original tracks and remixes, but I'm curious to hear who your biggest production influences are.
HC: I've always been impressed with Joakim's sound. He makes synths sound very natural, like they should be a physical instrument or something. I don't necessarily try to do that with my synths, I doubt he does either, but I like having a sort of natural texture to my tracks, if that makes any sense at all. Modeselektor and Royksopp also fit that sound in my mind, and I respect their production highly as well.
AwB: What are you sampling in your track, The Superfuture? It's been killing me.
HC: Ahhh all those string/brass stab sounds are a few samples with a synth mimicking them. The sample is from an Andy Gibb track from the late 70's.
AwB: You recently landed an official remix for Andy Caldwell. How'd that come about and how did it feel to really receive some recognition.
HC: That was fun to do, because that remix was the first track of mine to get an official release (more on the way!). I got that through KiD COLA's manager after I asked for a remix of The Superfuture. His manager, James Hoste, is with the same group who manages Andy Caldwell.
AwB: What's your opinion on Mashup guys like Girl Talk and Super Mash Bros?
HC: I've got a love/hate relationship with mashups. I think they're really cool when they're done live and sound good, like mixing two tracks in the same key basically. I've never especially liked putting on mashups when I'm at home listening to music. Its always really cool when 2 songs match in tempo and chord progression, but it gets sort of boring for me after about 30 seconds. All of this excludes Super Mash Bros. That project is (going to be?) incredible.
AwB: What are your top 5 tracks and top 5 artists at the moment?
1. Hidden Cat - Get With It
2. Tiga - Beep Beep Beep (Loco Dice Remix)
3. Stickin' - SonicC (BOMB! - EVERYONE GET THIS)
4. Phoenix - Lisztomania (Classixx Version)
5. D.I.M. & TAI - Lyposuct (Noob Remix)
Artists is way too hard. I will say that Dirty Projectors have recently put out an LP that is my favorite album in years.
AwB: Thanks so much for the interview, we're really excited to hear what comes next from you.
HC: No problem!
Ok, so that's it for the interview, time you hook you up with some awesome tracks:
The Superfuture - Hidden Cat
My personal favorite of his, it's incredible. Awesomely chopped up samples with a great Electro bassline.
Funk Nasty (Hidden Cat Remix) - Andy Caldwell
His first official release, should really get him some respect.
The Rip (Hidden Cat Remix) - Portishead
Not really a dance track, much more relaxed. Maybe you could end a set with this one, but its much more a listening track. Regardless, it's top notch.
The Floor is on Fire - Hidden Cat
Great chopped disco samples with an Electro bass. Everyone should be able to name this sample.
Heaven is a Place on Earth (Hidden Cat Remix) - Belinda Carlisle
Oh, so campy. Would probably get everyone in the crowd jumping though, and every DJ wants that.
Hints - Hidden Cat
Just straight up Electro this time, not as mature as his other tracks.
A Fifth of Beethoven (Hidden Cat's "Based on the Soulwax" Edit) - Walter Murphy & The Big Apple Band
I loved this shit when it first hit the blogs, even included it in one of my early sets.
BEATHOVEN (Edit) - Soulwax
And the original for all you.
Superfuture (KiD COLA Remix) - Hidden Cat
I'm not a very big fan of this remix. It's got a cool intro, but then just drops into this wobbly bass with resonance up the wazoo. What I AM a fan of, however, is his remix of KiD COLA, which you can check over at his MYSPACE. The release date hasn't been decided yet, but you can be sure it'll be posted here once I get the OK.