How did Hexstatic first come together?
I was running the visuals at the Big Chill when it started ten years ago, met up with Matt Black from Coldcut there and eventually started experimenting with video and music in their studio. I was the main architect of the Natural Rhythms trilogy which ended up on the Let Us Play album. I met robin at the Channel 5 launch party (of all places) where we were put together doing visuals at the party via mutual friends. I asked him to come down to the studio and use an old computer we had. We worked on a video called More Beats and Pieces and Robin made the classic Coldcut 3D characters. After this me and Robin decided to carry on as Hexstatic. Hex media, which was run by Coldcut and Robert Pepperell, was wound down at this time. We embarked on a huge project to create the first fully AV album Rewind which was released in August 2000.
How did you make the leap from doing visuals to making music, or was it part of the same process as far as you’re concerned?
It’s always felt like a natural progresion for us that electronic music become integrated with the visuals. We have always been interested in visualisation of sound.
Your music sounds like it could only ever be on the Ninja Tune label. What defines the Ninja Tunes sound?
I think we are actually a little different from the norm on Ninja, but they are branching out musically these days and now we seem to fit quite well. They have always been a forward thinking label and remain independent, which is great. I find it hard to define the Ninja sound but it seems to be on a different path to most of the music industry.
Who are your favourite artists on Ninja?
That’s a very difficult question to answer as I like pretty much all of them. I really like Funki Porcini’s last DVD Fast Asleep and I have been getting into Wagon Christ’s new album.
How would you describe your music?
Quirky audio visual electro.
What gave you the inspiration to go all anaglyph?
The View-Master for kids was a great toy. It came with discs so you could see animals you had never seen before in 3D. I also remember being amazed when I watched an anaglyph film around 1983 on TV. They gave away glasses on the cover of the Radio Times. The film had swashbuckling pirates, I think, with cannons and swords coming out of the screen. The main inspiration was a recent trip to IMAX. The 3D effect is amazing. So we decided to try it and anaglyph was the cheapest way we could do it and it worked well on DVD.
Is there an obsession with toys and gadgets (Speak and Spells, View-Masters…) Do you have any other toys you’d like to feature on your albums?
Er, we might be running out now. I had better start scouring those boot sales again.
When touring or playing non DJ sets, what equipment do you need to take on the road?
We are take our G4 laptops running Vidvox Grid. We also take two Pioneer DVJs with us: they are amazing and allow us to mix video and sound together, and even scratch.
What’s in your studio? What equipment do you use?
I have a G5 with lots of software. These days everything is done inside the computer. We have a Sony VX1000 video camera which has nice quality. For audio we use Reason, Ableton Live and Logic, and for video Premier, Final Cut Pro and After Effects.
What was David Byrne like to work with?
He was great, really friendly and laid back. He liked what I did, but it was a bit nerve-wracking. It was a big show for 50,000 people at the Lisbon Expo 98. It was in this outdoor AV stadium with the worlds biggest Jumbotron screen. I was pretty much in my element.
Who else would you like to work with?
I suppose some the people who have inspired us over the years. We would love to make a video for Kraftwerk, for instance. I just did a show with EBN who were very influential in the early 90s making AV cut-ups around the time of the first Gulf War.
How long did the album take to record?
It’s been over two years. To be honest, I think I could have spent another two years making all the videos more crazy and 3D, but you have to stop somewhere.
Are there any other tracks that didn’t make it onto the album that you might put out?
Hmmm, we just made a little track as part of the 3D intro we use when we do our rare 3D performances. We have plenty of unfinished ideas that will probably end up on the next album in various forms.
How far do you think you can push the audio/visual combination?
I think it can go a lot further and we are really only scratching the surface. We can’t do it in real-time yet, but that is on its way. AV is very much influenced by technology and the Sophistication of the software we are using.
Do you have a favourite track from the album?
I think Salvador is my favourite track as it came out from going to Salvador in Brazil on holiday after a few gigs on the Sensurround tour with the British council around South America. I took footage on the streets and we collaborated with Andy from Organic Audio on the sound. We gave him loops and samples taken off the video, made the track and we painstakingly cut out the characters from the footage and made a montage that you can view in 3D.
What was Andy from Organic Audio like to work with?
It was a life changing experience. I’ve never worked with such genius before… (he told me to say that).
What made you decide to put the Guitar Vader remix on the album?
We really liked it and thought it would fit well. I think it’s very different from the original punky version and the band were happy for us to use it.
According to Andy, there was another video made for Perfect Bird before the Astro Boy version; what was that like?
Oh, well I filmed a lot of stuff in Brazil when I was there and Robin asked me if I could knock up a video using some ambient visuals from the trip. I shot some amazing waterfalls called Iguasu Falls and later that day I visited a bird sanctuary. I didn’t tell Robin about using a parrot to mime the words. You should’ve seen Robin’s face when he saw a Brazilian parrot singing along to a female Japanese voice. Very funny.