Spotlight focuses on the DJs and producers who are making waves in the dance music underground
Each edition features an exclusive mix and interview with an artist who has been handpicked by the team at Ministry Magazine.
This week we have emotional house duo Him Self Her. The boy-girl pairing of Leon and Claire, met on the Leicester club circuit and have been making music together ever since.
The pair have released on Crosstown Rebels and are best known for their release "Gone Too Long" on Cream Couture records in 2012, the track spent 11 weeks at No.1 in the Beatport New Disco chart, and spent a mind blowing 7 months in the top ten.
Have a listen to their mix and read our exclusive interview below.
First of all thanks for doing an exclusive mix for us, what did you go for in the mix? Is this a representation of what you play out now or more what you listen to at home?
Obviously with a mix you can be a little bit more experimental and varied than you can be on the dancefloor, and we have included a mixture of tracks that we are digging at home at the minute, as well as a few bits that are working really well in our sets, including two of our own currently unreleased singles.
For those who may be new to your music, how would you describe your sound?
It's a tricky one this, as we have always said we don't have a specific sound and we often just go where the project takes us, which could be any genre of house. When we first started making music together we were producing a very nu-disco sort of vibe, which was what we were playing at the time. However over the last two years our sound has really evolved and we are making and playing a lot darker and more techno influenced music these days, as you will hear from the mix.
How did you first get in to music, when did you know you wanted to be DJs?
We have both been total music junkies ever since we were young and have both been DJing for too many years to mention! We started out on vinyl and played a lot of gigs on the same circuit in the Midlands, which is how we got to know each other. We actually have quite different backgrounds musically in terms of the genres and styles we listened to growing up, but this is an advantage in the studio as we both bring different angles and ideas.
What have you got coming up on the horizon?
We have some really exciting things happening in the next few months, the first one being our very own Toolroom Selector Series compilation, where we had the chance to choose our favourite 15 tracks from the whole of the Toolroom back catalogue from the last ten years, and put them into a continuous DJ mix. We worked hard on making this really exclusive so there are a few surprises thrown in and it will be out in early December.
After that we have our debut release on Suara, featuring a new vocalist, Calder. This is out in the new year, with remixes from Dubspeeka and Sonny Fodera and is a move towards our new sound, so we are super excited for everyone to hear it.
In the coming weeks we are all over the UK and Europe performing too - with gigs in London, Harrogate, Manchester, Switzerland and Berlin, all before the end of the year.
What can the Ministry of Sound crowd expect from your set at Audio Rehab?
Hopefully people will be surprised by our set. We like to make sure our performances are dynamic, interesting and raw. We play side by side over four decks and two mixers, using a combination of CDJs and Traktor and we NEVER sync! Plus we always try to include our own bootlegs and pre-edits, which you will only ever hear if you come to one of our shows.
You like to focus on ‘house music with feeling’ – generally tracks with strong vocal elements. It seems like a lot of DJs are almost afraid to play too many vocal tracks, what’s everyone’s issue with vocals?
It's funny that when we first started as a duo, vocal tracks were really in. Since deep house has started to cross over into the mainstream people have started to move away from big vocal elements in their tracks, and although we still love vocals, we have also started playing and making more instrumental music ourselves. For us though it's all about the feeling and emotion we get from the music and this doesn't necessarily have to be from vocals, it could be a bassline, chord, melody or any kind of hook.
What do you think of the state of dance music at the minute?
We get asked this question a lot and our answer is always the same - music is always evolving and changing so genres will always break from the underground and this can only be a good thing. There are also more and more people calling themselves Producers and DJs with advances in technology, but if you are good at what you do and stick to what you believe in, then why worry about it? Life would be pretty boring if everything stayed the same.
Who are the most exciting underground artists that our readers might not have heard of but who you think will be big names to come?
People we are really digging at the minute are Raxon, Adriatique and Wehbba. If you haven't heard of any of these guys then you really should check them out.
Who are your biggest influences?
As we have said, we both have very different musical backgrounds, so we both bring different influences to the studio, from Classical and Jazz right through to Jungle and DnB. We try to take influence from everywhere and we are constantly swapping ideas and tracks from the past and the present.
What do you like to do on your day off, what’s a typical Sunday like for you?
Sundays are usually spent recovering from Saturday night's gig or flying back from somewhere in Europe after a performance Luckily neither of us have to go to work on a Monday so they usually become our Sundays! We have pretty different lifestyles, so if we actually had a day off, Leon would most likely be watching the football and drinking a beer and Claire would be out somewhere running or cycling!
How do you prepare for a gig?
We actually do quite a lot of preparation for every gig, which includes checking out the brand and the venue to try and get a feel for what the night and the crowd will be like. We chat about the key tracks we want to include and we always prepare some edits and bootlegs to make sure there are some surprises thrown in. If we have time, we have a bit of a jam in the studio beforehand. We are both superstitious so we do have a bit of a pre-gig ritual on the night.. we always make sure we stop for a coffee on the way, get there early to check out the atmosphere and gauge the crowd... and we both make sure we are wearing our lucky underpants...
10 Nov 2014