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Hiem AKA Nicco (left) and Bozzwell
Hiem AKA Nicco (left) and Bozzwell

We’ve been in touch with Bozzwell (AKA David Boswell) ever since we interviewed him a few years ago for another publication. After hearing his track ‘In My Cocoon’ back in 2011 we were instant fans. He’s always been a personable character, always willing to help and, of course, putting out great music from his base in Sheffield. Bozzy’s latest project is an album recorded under the alias Hiem, a project he works on with Nick “Nicco” Eastwood. ‘Hotspace‘ is the title and it’s a wonderfully playful, funky little LP with great songs, top notch composition and excellent songwriting.

The duo kindly took time to chat to us about their year, and also recorded us a superb mix which you can listen to below, so hit the play button and listen to the mixtape while you read all about Hiem’s 2017…

2017 has been another crazy year on planet Earth, what have been some of your own personal highlights?
Bozzwell: For me I think releasing the first David J. Boswell 7” called ‘Heavy Load’ on the Black Beacon Sound label and Jarvis (Cocker) playing it on the BBC was a pretty cool moment. I’ve got a load of weird acoustic, electronic recordings that are waiting to get released, stuff I’ve had lying around the studio for years and also finishing the Hotspace album with Nicco, getting the masters back from Nang and then actually holding the vinyl version in my hands. It’s amazing watching a record almost take on a life of its own.

Which news stories (positive or negative) have really impacted on your life this year?
Nicco: For me there have been so many negative news stories but the most positive thing for me is that we are now asking more questions and not believing what we are told as a human race. We are constantly bombarded with what we should think and believe by the powers that be and the media. Nowadays I feel that I can look for alternative news and views and make my own decision on matters. Jeremy Corbyn has been a great hope – the amount of stick he got from numerous media outlets would have finished him 10 years ago. I feel as though people power is really happening and that has got to be positive.

Have you discovered any new countries, town or cities? If so, tell us about where you went please.
Bozzwell: The last time I was away was in Berlin last year. I feel quite at home in that place, it’s great to hang out with my friends and play records and stuff. I know so many people now that have moved over there. I guess if you want to bolster a musical career (especially electronic), it’s the place to be. I have a lot of fond memories of that place.

Artwork from the Hotspace LP
Artwork from the Hotspace LP

Did you start the year with any clear goals? If so, what were they and have you managed to achieve them?
Nicco: I always have goals but this year has been different I have always wanted to make music to make dem girls dance. This album though has been a journey where it went in several directions and made me look inwards and appreciate it’s not all about dem girls dancing!!!! Well it is really.

What have you learned this year: a) About yourself? B) About the world in general?
Bozzwell: I’ve learned I’m not great at dealing with stress. I can go under quite easily so I’ve got to keep a check on myself. I’m trying to eat as healthy as I can though I fall off the wagon sometimes. I’ve also learned this industry that we’re in can be a tricky place to be. I’m hoping one day well find a booking agent that will come up with the goods. We’ve had seven booking agents in 13 years! I’m hoping that will sort itself out sometime soon… As for the world, it’s even more fucked up. I just try and get on with what I’m doing and just hope it gets better. Thankfully music is a great sanctuary from what’s going on out there.

Would you call 2017 a good or a bad year, and why?
Nicco: It’s been a good year because I look around at my peers and see good people. I need reminding of that sometimes – apart from the odd baddy and nobhead people are people and we look after each other. It’s been great getting the new album out into the ether too, big time.

Now that 2017 is almost over, what are your plans up until the end of the year?
Bozzwell: Well I guess I’m gonna relax a bit and just watch what happens with Hotspace. Then, at some point, try and work out how the hell we follow that up with the next album. In our opinion we’ve reached a bit of a milestone with this one. There are also a few Hiem and Bozzwell remixes coming out this year so it’ll be nice to see those get out there, as well as the LP. Both as Bozzwell and Hiem I realise I’ve released a hell of a lot of records over the years .

Finally, can you recommend an album or a musician or a visual artist you’ve discovered this year?
Bozzwell: Yeah I think the most interesting artist I’ve stumbled across this last year is Michal Turtle, who put out an album on the Music From Memory label. It’s an album he recorded in his front room in 1982. Oh man it’s brilliant! There’s this track that got reissued called ‘Are You Psychic?’ – it’s complete genius.

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Guy Andrews performed a spectacular light show at fabric
Guy Andrews performed a spectacular light show at fabric

DLTM experienced an audio-visual feast last night at fabric, where their Houndstooth label put on a dazzling showcase featuring Guy Andrews. Guy’s album, ‘Our Spaces’, is due for release on the cutting-edge label early next year. So ahead of the release, and to demonstrate the capabilities of his impressive live set up, they invited a few industry heads down to the legendary club for a Tuesday night gig.

Arriving a tad earlier than planned, DLTM were invited up to fabric’s office – where the magic happens – before being led downstairs to Room Two by Houndstooth bossman, Rob Booth. fabric’s techno room was to be the setting for Guy’s live performance and just minutes before he was due to start, we caught him for a quick chat.

Guy Andrews performed his whole album, 'Our Spaces', live in Room Two at fabric
Guy Andrews performed his whole album, ‘Our Spaces’, live in Room Two at fabric

So, we hear that you juggle music with a full-time job?
Yeah I run my own digital marketing agency. It’s a blessing in disguise really because even though a lot of people say, “Oh, don’t you want to do music full-time?”, which would be really cool, but the only way I could have written this album would have been to take the time out from everything. I was able to do that because I had the money coming in from the day job. It was enough to sustain me and meant I could focus on new material. I was lucky to have that.

Was there much crossover between making the album and getting the live show, or did you finish the LP first before getting started with your live set?
Yeah, I wrote the album first, which took about a year and a half, maybe two years. I knew what I wanted to achieve, as in bringing in my post-rock influences, once I brought that in with the techno stuff I was like, “You know what, I’m getting a bit jaded with the DJing all the time”. Even though I still love it, I wanted to do something new. I deleted all my synth presets and started from scratch.

That’s quite a ballsy move…
I remember there was this one set I did in Brighton at Concorde 2. It was a great set, but I was listening to folk music in my headphones before I played, all the way up until the very start of my set. That was a pivotal moment for me. It made me realise my head just wasn’t into it anymore and I needed a change. It was literally that night when I went home and deleted all the synth presets and tried to do everything from scratch. Once the album was done and Houndstooth had signed it, they suggested conceiving a live show to go with it. It’s something I’d always had in the back of my mind but I didn’t have a clue how. It wasn’t until I had the music that I figured it out and deconstructed it so I knew which parts to play live; which is a really really long process.

So were there any points where you felt like you were banging your head against a brick wall?
Yeah massively. Sometimes you just don’t know which part of the track to perform. You might have a top line melody that you play on the Ableton Push, which will give you that authenticity of playing live but, actually, it doesn’t really look that great. So it’s finding the balance between actually being a live act and making it sound and look good, too.

"Playing a guitar in the dark takes endless practice" - Guy in action at fabric
“Playing a guitar in the dark takes endless practice” – Guy in action at fabric

Did you practice in front of the mirror?!
No, I didn’t but it was quite funny the other night I was the spare room of the flat I live in with my girlfriend. I realised I’d never practiced any of the show in the dark, so I turned out the lights and I was playing my guitar. I use in the ear monitoring, so I playing with no sound actually coming out and she walked in like, “What are you doing?!”. There are so many things you don’t realise are going to be an issue until have to actually rehearse them, like playing the guitar in the dark, which is pretty hard. It’s endless, endless practice. It’s scary playing the guitar in front of people, especially in comparison with DJing, where not a whole lot can really go wrong. It adds this whole element of huge risk to it, which is absolutely terrifying.

That’s the thing about performing live, whether you’re in a band or playing solo, the amount of factors that impact on that risk element are far greater.
I think this is what I really wanted. Don’t get me wrong DJing is great and really enjoyable but it became quite routine for me, I knew what set I’d play for what kind of crowd and all that kind of stuff. Playing an instrument brings in that fear, when I was DJing I wasn’t getting nervous. I wanted to do something where things can go wrong. At the same time you’re getting real time reaction, both from playing and from the audience. I needed a new challenge and this is it.

How did you link up with Zak Norman, the lighting genius?
With live electronic acts the standard is so high now that we need to do something more than play the music. Rob Booth (A&R for Houndstooth) and I both know Zak from Black Box Echo – I know him from uni, via an old music project I was working on. We had a meeting and Rob said, “I know this guy called Zak, he’s doing stuff for Squarepusher at the moment”. I was like, “I know Zak as well!”, we got in touch with him and, using his crazy brain and creativity, made something bespoke for us. It’s scalable as well, it’s designed to pack down really really small, so we’re going to be taking it out on the road with us. He’s done an amazing job, I’m so thankful. Steve from Zeal as well, who supplied all the lights. I’ve got a really good team, I feel so privileged.

The album deserves to have a special show to accompany it. We were listening to it at work all day today and really enjoyed it.
Thanks, it’s the first material I’ve released under my own name, it’s got a lot of emotion in it. Rather than just making functional dance music, which is fun, I wanted to put real instruments into action and portray emotion without being too bothered about working the soundsystem. It’s been a very very long process but it’s pretty exciting to play it live tonight…

The live performance featured a light show designed by Zak Norman of Black Box Echo
The live performance featured a light show designed by Zak Norman of Black Box Echo

Then it was on to the show. As Guy explained to us, the album is more emotional than some of his previous material, there’s a clear organic feel with the inclusion of guitar strings and ‘live’ sounding percussive elements (performed by drummer  combined with a solemn atmosphere in places which is counteracted by moments of sheer illumination.

Speaking of which, the light show that accompanies the musical performance is incredible, timed to work in tandem with the music and complementing it well. Designed by Zak Norman, a lighting wizard who worked with Squarepusher earlier this year, it made for an intense, immersive experience with powerful, pulsating lights flashing at us and dousing Room Two in a sheet of white at times. Perhaps a little too powerful for the enclosed space, but great nonetheless and definitely something that will be perfectly placed on a bigger stage at a festival. The close of the show, with ‘Let Your Shadow Decide’ accompanied by a blinding display was almost overwhelming – but we kept our eyes open and took in every last drop of bright light. After the show we met Zach and he said we’d be seeing lights in a dreams, funnily enough DLTM thought the same thing as the hypnotic flashes collided with our retinas.

Awesome. No wonder Rob told us to bring our sunglasses…

Room Two was flooded with an array of coloured lights pulsating and flashing intensely in time with the music
Room Two was flooded with an array of coloured lights pulsating and flashing intensely in time with the music

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Kode9 'Nothing' launch at Four Quarters in Peckham
Kode9 'Nothing' launch at Four Quarters in Peckham

Kode9 is always pushing boundaries and innovating, from his experimentation with soundscapes, basslines and ambience through to his forward-thinking label, Hyperdub, and his book ‘Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear’. He’s one of those characters who strikes the perfect balance between pushing things forward and keeping people dancing. Last night he unveiled his new album ‘Nothing’ to a select group of tastemakers and industry folk at Four Quarters in Peckham and, unsurprisingly, it was a listening party with a difference, using SubPacs to give us all a proper experience of the album’s bass-heavy productions.

Kode9 'Nothing' launch at Four Quarters in Peckham
Intimate vibes at Kode9’s album playback event
Kode9 'Nothing' launch at Four Quarters in Peckham
Everyone listened intently as the SubPacs rattled their ribcages

In case you’re unaware, a SubPac is a device your wear on your back, which connects to your sound system and vibrates in unison with the bass, in effect giving you a truly physical experience of the music – something which is sadly lost through most of the home speakers we use these days, especially the ones we use via our laptops.

At the unassuming event, we enjoyed a few beers while we observed five people sat on chairs with the SubPacs strapped to the back. The basement of Four Quarters felt like the perfect environment in which to absorb Kode9’s deep and deadly subs. On a big screen on the wall an animation played, with a hologram of the late Spaceape present throughout almost the whole thing. The lighting, dim and green, added to the gritty feel of the event – it all felt quite immersive and intimate…

Kode9 'Nothing' launch at Four Quarters in Peckham
The basement at Four Quarters was the perfect environment to get stuck into Kode9’s LP
Kode9 'Nothing' launch at Four Quarters in Peckham
SubPac provided a few of their awesome devices to allow listeners a true experience of Kode9’s bass-heavy productions

As for listening to the album through the SubPacs, well it was great. Having listened to ‘Nothing’ a few times already this week, via our earphones, it was quite a treat to have our kidneys massaged by the warm, juddering, occasionally thunderous b-lines. We closed our eyes and let the music take us out of the basement and out into another dimension, while the SubPac gave us a true representation of the ferocity of the basslines. Every track had something about we liked, but we were really feeling ‘9 Drones’ (a 2015 rework of ‘9 Samurais’) with its horn-led intro, ‘Vacuum Packed’, ‘Void’ and ‘Casimir Effect’, which was probably our favourite of the whole bunch, insane energy.

A novel idea, and a superb album. Hats off to Kode9 and the Hyperdub gang.

Kode9 'Nothing' launch at Four Quarters in Peckham
DLTM’s Marcus Barnes and lawyer Halina Wielogorska enjoy Kode9’s first solo LP at his playback event in Peckham

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