A man who needs no introduction, Phil Hartnoll is one of the founding fathers of modern music. After revolutionizing the electronica scene with his brother Paul as the groundbreaking duo Orbital, the two have since ventured on their own paths. Phil Hartnoll continues to push and explore the realm of electronic music while fusing elements from all genres with his latest project Long Range.
HigherFrequency was able to sit down with this living legend and find out more about this musical pioneer on a recent tour on Japan.
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HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : How did you meet Nick Smith and what led to starting Long Range?
Phil Hartnoll : I used to live in London then I moved to Brighton and I didnít know anybody, I knew that a friend of mine used to live in Brighton so he said you should phone up this guy and heíll show you around. And it started from there really, a friend of a friend. He was doing Trance music at the time (that was ten years ago) and had done a couple of albums so we got along well. Then he moved into sound design for films and adverts and things like that and I thought that side was very interesting. So he quit his job at about the same time that Orbital finished so we said letís get together and do a project. I thought he would be good to work with to try and introduce a bit more sound design into the music and see how that would develop. So thatís what we did and thatís how we started Long Range.
We wanted me and him to be the central Long Range, but then draw in other people, like other singers, a bit like how Massive Attack work, they getting different people for different projects. Down in Brighton, itís a funny place, and there are lots of creative people there especially in the electronic world that are really talented. Since Orbital was closed off, we occasionally worked with other people but essentially it was just me and my brother I really wanted to get other people, which was the opposite way of working really. Then I started doing a lot of DJing at that time so that really sparked off a different enthusiasm and thatís how that developed really.
HRFQ : What do you want to express through Long Range?
Phil Hartnoll : I never know whatís going to happen until itís happened. I can think ideas or think I really like what that person does, Iíd like to work with them but until you get into the studio and it actually starts developing I never really know. Thatís why I think on the album there are quite a lot of different styles that come in, and I donít restrict it, itís just good to let that happen. Thereís no plan apart from that person or respect to that person. On this last album I enjoyed working with folk, acoustic singers, which is where Kelly (Malone) came in, and cause theyíve never worked with electronic people, and Iím used to working with acoustic people so I really enjoyed that. So itís really nice to get some lyrics and a bit more song base rather than doing instrumentals all the time. I found another folk singer/songwriter which Iím looking forward to working with her for the next project and other various people, like Iíve got this very good drummer whoís going to come and just have fun and really enjoy it.
HRFQ : I read that you said you wanted to make more danceable tracks when you broke up Orbital. Could you tell us more about what were you thinking at that time?
Phil Hartnoll : Maybe that was the plan at that time. This album is not very dance floor orientated, itís more of an album. We got some good remixes coming from the album which are done by Hybrid, Lee Combs, and a guy called Maggie whoís a breakbeat DJ which are really good remixes. I think maybe this next one will be more (danceable) I really love the Ellen Allien album, ďOrchestra of BubblesĒ itís been out awhile but I only sort of discovered it properly. Thatís what Iím always trying to achieve, sheís got a great balance of home listening but you could play out live. There are some really good melodies in there as well. That my goal right there!
HRFQ : What have been some of the most memorable moments youíve had as an artist?
Phil Hartnoll : Iíve been so lucky and so privileged, to pick one thing doesnít seem fair on everything else. I just enjoy having success doing what I enjoy doing. I had the chances to play at Glastonbury Festival, Iíve remixed Madonna, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Kraftwerk. Karl Bartos, itís like all these people, sometimes I feel Iím not worthy. I try and make the best out of everything and some of the opportunities that Iíve had have really good so there are a few to choose from. I guess the most important thing is that if people enjoy it (my music) and get a connection that is the best thing I could ever ask for, and I feel so happy when that happens.
HRFQ : Since you have already accomplished so much as a pioneer of electronic music, whatís next on your list?
Phil Hartnoll : Iíve never gone ďIíd like to do this or Id like to thatĒ thatís not my way, its more like ďwow Iím hereĒ if everything were to all finish tomorrow Iíd go that was brilliant, I was so honoured and privileged. I suppose it a continuation of connecting my music with people, because if that doesnít happen thereís no point in trying to do it as a career. If people donít get it, I canít do anything else so then Iíd have to get a day job and just do it at home for myself. I suppose to keep on connecting with people is the answer.
End of the interview