A Masif interview with Steve Hill and K-Series
Reported by Macavity
Submitted 20-07-05 20:54
If you love high energy trance or hard trance then chances are you’ve heard of Masif Recordings. And if that name doesn’t ring a bell then you’ve probably heard of DJ/producer Steve Hill, the immensely popular hard dance DJ who runs the hard trance label with very talented producer Jon Langford (a.k.a. K-Series and The Knuckleheadz).
If you’re still not sure, it is the record label behind such huge tunes as Ian Betts’ anthem ‘Love Resurrection’ and James Lawson and Steve Hill’s ‘Inside of me’. It’s also just re-released the humongous 1998 anthem ‘The Day Will Come’, produced by Rob Tissera and Ian Bland under the alias Quake.
The tune was an instant success reaching number 30 in the UK charts and selling thousands of copies. And, if the urban myths are true there were batches of E’s going round which someone had thought to call ‘Quakes’.
It’s since appeared on a plethora of compilation albums, often finding it way on to classic albums, including the recent Gatecrasher Classics which features the original release. But now the tune is finally available to buy on Masif in the form of two tasty remixes. The first it the much anticipated Rowland & Wright vs Rob Tissera Mix which Rob has been playing to massive crowds for months. The other is a very tasty K-Series and Steve Hill mix which will turn out to an end-of-night euphoric tear-jerker.
To coincide with the release I spoke to Steve Hill and Jon Langford to find out about their remix and what it’s like to run a record label when Steve is based in Sydney and Jon is based in Bournemouth.
You both run the Masif record label? What's involved in running a label?
SH: Masif is my baby really although Jon and I go through every release and mix before it goes on the label. We both run Volts Wagen Recordings. Jon does K-Series & Knuckleheadz and I do S-Trax and Y2K as well. I've run labels for near on ten years now so it’s become a way of life. Just sign records you love, you play, and artists you respect and get on with — and that seems to work well.
JL: Yeah, it works well. We're both pulling in the same direction and I’m able to keep my ear to the ground back in the UK on ‘what’s hot and what’s not’. If you think about it we're working 24 hours a day; whilst I'm asleep, Steve is working!
Tell us about Masif. How do decide on which tracks to release?
SH: Masif is all about releasing big tracks — nothing but. If I won't hammer it, it doesn't go on the label. I don't have the pressure of having to put out a release a month or anything so just release whenever I have material that warrants a release on the label.
What's the main stresses and strains of the job?
SH: I think the stresses involved are when things go wrong and you have to meet certain deadlines; bad cuts, design work not being delivered on time, pressings warped etc but all of this can be solved easily and it doesn't happen often at all. Other than that having your own label is a dream.
JL: Most of my stresses come from the production side of things, getting vocals done, mixdowns, mastering and any pressing issues we might come across.
What do you hope to achieve with the label?
SH: My ambitions are always high. I want Masif to become the world’s biggest euphoric hard dance label. It’s only five releases old so time will tell.
And with one of you living with Oz and one of you living in UK, how does this work with the time difference?
SH: I'm always available on e-mail, phone or MSN so if anything happens we know how to get in touch with each other. I thought the move to Sydney would be a little more problematic than it is, but hasn’t. No problems so far... fingers crossed.
JL: With technology these days it’s really not an issue. I can send ideas to Steve, Steve can send me back vocals or samples he may want to use and we can practically put a track together over the net! Plus, as I said earlier, it’s almost a 24 hour cycle!
On 18th July you’re releasing Rob Tissera and Quake's 1999 anthem ‘The Day Will Come’. It includes a pretty tasty remix by both you and Jon which marries the original with the trance anthem, ‘Synasthesia’ type hook. How did you set to work on this mix?
SH: I was in Leeds in March and met up with Rob. We'd talked for a while about this track. Rob and I DJed together at Frantic in Sydney last December and discussed it then as well. I’d heard all the mixes and said to Rob that Jon and I would have a go at remixing it — so we did — two days before I left to come back to Sydney. It came together so easily. Jon and I were both really familiar with the track as it was always one of our faves. So 48 hours later we finished. I jumped on a plane back home and when I arrived had a text from Rob saying he loved the mix. The links with the Thrillseekers type riff was me being cheeky and linking Quake with another huge 1999 trance anthem!
JL: From my point of view, Rob has always been a keen fan of both my K-Series work and Steve’s own productions, so it really made sense for us to work together on this project. Steve and I have worked on many occasions before so we knew what each other was thinking. I’d already played the first 2 notes of ‘Synasthasia’ in the track and Steve spotted the resemblance, so I finished off the riff!
What reaction have you had to the record?
SH: I’ve played it everywhere for the last three months and it’s still one of the biggest tunes in my box. You always know a big record when you have people requesting it before you drop it!
JL: Likewise... that vocal just shines through and it’s so distinctive that people just go mad too it... it’s always good to see people signing along to the track... that’s when you know it’s a winner!
The original was a pretty big deal. It reached the UK Top 30 and sold heaps of copies. If the rumours are true it even sparked an ecstasy tablet to be named after it. Do you remember hearing the original and if so where were you?
SH: I first heard it on Radio 1 when Jules dropped it — huge soaring vocal trance. It was a huge record then; it is a huge record now.
JL: I got it on promo from FFRR before it was initially released and I remember Jules & Tong playing it... I seem to remember John “OO” Fleming was a big follower of it too.
Jon you are the brains behind K-Series, a strange name. How did this come about?
JL: K-Series is quite simply the first letter from Knuckleheadz! It was just an idea I had to give me an outlet to more trancier productions...
Jon — The K-Series tunes are often big hands-in-the-air anthemic tunes. Many would say this was cheesy. What would you say to these people?
JL: The idea behind K-Series was to re-produce old classic tunes for a ‘faster generation’! Many of the old classics are just screaming out for newer remixes that DJs can play... cheesey? Maybe.... but most of the tracks were originally underground tunes, they’re only cheesey now becasue they became popular! I LOVE EM!
Jon — you also produce under the aliases of Mr. Bishi, Neon Lights, the Knuckleheads and Flashheadz. What's the difference between them?
JL: Mr Bishi & Neon Lights are two pseudonyms that Steve and I produce under together. Mr Bishi has always been more party time hard dance, whereas Neon Lights has been more hard trance orientated. Knuckleheadz is my funky hard house pseudonym and Flashheadz is a new project that I do with Flash Harry.
What other tasty tunes are you working on at the moment?
SH: I'm finishing my solo album due for release in February 2006. A 60 track 3xCD set called My Past, Your Present, Our Future. Technikal and I are working on an album together as well. Plus I have a number of singles on Jon’s and my labels; VW, Masif, S-Trax and Y2K.
JL: Flash Harry & I did a funkydiscotechnohardhouser thing that Anne Savage has been playing called ‘Be There’, plus I have K10 Part 1 & Part 2 ready to go to press soon. Steve and I have done a new Mr Bishi single and I am working on an exclusive remix for Steve Hill’s album.
What's your personal favourite tune you've made and why was it special?
SH: I don’t have one personal favourite. The first tune I ever made was ‘Frantic Theme (Get A Life)’ which went on to sell 27,000 copies so that’d be one of them! I love the European meets UK stuff I'm making at the moment with producers like Yakooza, Technikal and Dark By Design though.
JL: I'd have to say my first tune too. Knuckleheadz — ‘House Rocca’ put myself and then-time production partner Warren Clarke on the hard dance map, so I have a lot to thank it for! More recently my re-work of Atlantis ‘Fiji’ is something i am very fond of.
Why did you both decide to remix ‘The Day Will Come’?
SH: Because it was one of our favourite trance tunes and Rob said if it was to be on Masif we had to do it! It was a pleasure!
JL: Coz Steve runs the label and he asked me!!! Nah, seriously, Rob is a good mate and he keeps asking me to get in the studio with him... We haven’t had the time recently so this was the next best thing I could do for him!
Photos courtesy of Jon, Rob & Steve. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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