Harnessing the rational to illuminate the transcendental with Hedflux
Reported by Tara
Submitted 14-06-15 22:50
Scottish sonic sorcerer Steve Young aka Hedflux has been DJing since he was a teenager, playing D ‘n’ B and breaks until he caught the psy trance bug and embarked on a passionate production pilgrimage to combine the exquisite atmosphere of psy trance and the groovy eclecticism of breaks. Such aural alchemy soon saw him soon becoming one of the leaders of the pack in the comparatively new genre of psy breaks, before carving his very own genre of psychedelic tech funk.
Hes since launched his own label, Luminus Music, where he continues to give out some of his top tracks for free/donation, many being found on the incredible compilations In Retrospect: Selected Works from 2007–2014 – containing anthems like Music is my Weapon (2007), Revolve (2010) and Pyramid Eclipse (2013) – with remixes from the likes of OOOD, Nanoplex and Bad Tango. In March 2015 he dropped a bomb in the form of the awesome Collaborations EP with Kiwi beat maestro Grouch, featuring remixes from Nanosphere and Brujo’s Bowl, before embarking on an epic tour of Australia. Now he’s back in the UK: but not for long, as he’s about to pack up his studio and move his family to Honduras.
With Hedflux about to play one of his final UK sets for a wee while at Astral Circus on Friday 26 June at Brixton Jamm, we were fortunate enough to get him to answer a few questions about his music, spirituality and ayahuasca and er... quantum physics!
Hi Steve, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions when I’m sure you’d rather be making music. Firstly, can you please tell us a bit about yourself and what first inspired your musical journey? Did you always dream of being a DJ or producer, or was it something that happened along the way?
Fascination with music, mixing and computers has been part of my daily life for as long as I can recall. I studied and worked with many other things but that was the one obsession that never went away. It seems to tie everything else together. I was well into my 30s before I took the leap and committed myself to it professionally.
Having DJed since you were a teenager, you’ve changed styles several times along the way. I don’t know of many D ‘n’ B or breaks DJs who’ve made the leap to psychedelic sounds, let alone created their own genre of “psychedelic tech funk”! How would you say your sound has changed and evolved over the years and where do you see it going in the future?
There has been a definite trend toward slowing down as I get older! And that is continuing at the moment as I’m finding great joy exploring the 90–120bpm tempo range.
“Psychedelic tech-funk” is a term that is constructed so as to be as open as possible about the tempo, type of beat or bassline etc. Really, it can be anything that is funky, electronic, and expresses psychedelic culture and ideas. For the future you can expect more dynamic music at a range of different tempos and energies, but always with that distinctive psy-tech-funk character.
Who or what have been your main influences over the years? And now?
I’ve talked a lot about my past musical influences in other interviews. These days I’m less influenced by specific other music and artists, and more motivated by the creative process itself. I pick up bits of inspiration from songs, genres and parties along the way, but really I try to let everything be an inspiration or a lesson.
You’ve toured large parts of the globe, released tracks and remixes on a plethora of top labels, topped the Beatport charts for months at a time, won various awards and played at some of the world’s biggest festivals and clubs. What would you say are the highlights of your career so far? And what goals do you still have for the future?
There have been a lot of highlights now, and I don’t like to choose favourites, but my most recent tour of Australia in April was an absolute DREAM. Super cruisy!
For the future I am currently working on two albums; a solo Hedflux album which I aim to have ready by the end of the summer, and a collaborative album with my good friend and talented multi-instrumentalist Alex Delfont. That too should also be ready by end of summer if all goes according to plan, and will be released under a new name. I also have some cool new remixes coming over the next few months.
You graduated with a PhD in quantum physics in 2004, an incredible achievement (especially bearing in mind it took me 4 years to do a bloody MA!). If you can survive the self-discipline needed to complete a physics PhD then I reckon you could probably endure most things! Do you believe the universe is holographic?
I believe that what we experience as reality or the universe is like a holographic projection which is dependent on our brain chemistry and our energetic environment.
You’re now one of the lucky few who manage to make a living from music alone. Was it a big decision to escape the rat race and follow your passion?
Yes, but it was also inevitable. I had no choice in the end – it was the only thing I could do that satisfied all my ambitions.
Hedflux dj set @Sunrise, Leeds, April 2015
Your bio defines ‘psychedelic’ as ‘soul manifesting’ – which surely means that all music is psychedelic?! Can you tell us a wee bit more about what the concept of psychedelic means to you and your music?
Well yes all music is psychedelic, in the sense that the very nature of music is to express the ineffable qualities of the soul. However, it can be made soulless when it is created for reasons other than pure self-expression.
But I think what makes “psy” music different, is that it is intended to express psychedelic states of consciousness. Just as “visionary art” is intended to expresses visionary states of consciousness, but in another sense all art could be called “visionary”.
Alongside your scientific research you’ve also been on somewhat of a spiritual quest over the years and you said in a recent interview that you’ve realised that the more you learn, the more you’ve realised the hippies were right. Do you think you would have embarked on this adventure if you hadn’t tried ayahuasca? Do the ‘self-transforming machine elves’ get inside your music?
Ayahuasca and entheogenic medicines have been a transformative force in my life and helped me to heal, find my way, do what I love, and make others happy.
For the studio geeks reading this, what sort of studio set up do you have at the moment? Do you have a favourite piece of kit – or is that currently top secret knowledge?!
Nah no secrets here. I have a new iMac, ADAM A77X speakers (which I LOVE) and I use Ableton with a Push controller. I’m all software as far as sound goes. I like the minimalist approach. The less stuff the better.
You’ve been working with another one of my favourite producers, Grouch, for a couple of years now, starting with the incredible Lumination and culminating in the recent Collaborations EP. How has this all come about and do you have any future plans for more co-productions? You’ve described Grouch’s music as having a ‘distinctive New Zealand flavour’, as a Kiwi I can only agree!
Yeah I love Grouch, we will undoubtedly cross paths again and endeavour to collaborate when we do. The New Zealand sound is very distinctive, and for me reflects the openness and magic of the land there.
You’re also building up a career as a music teacher, it must be rewarding sharing your knowledge with those new to making their own sounds. What are your top tips for the up-and-coming producers reading this – in addition to signing up to one of your online courses, of course!
Throw yourself into it as fully as you can, put in the time and effort. They say it takes 7 years (or 10,000 hours) of dedicated practice and study to become a master of something. Aim to become a master! You can totally do it.
The results of the recent election have motivated you to speed up your mission to move your family to Honduras, and we are honoured but obviously more than a bit sad that Astral Circus may well be your last London set for a while. Why Honduras, and what are you planning to do there? Do you hope to settle there for good or are there also other destinations on your radar?
Actually the election didn’t motivate me to move, it motivated me to announce that I was moving! The move to Honduras has been planned since February, and has nothing to do with politics. I plan to live well, in the mountains, focus on health, healing, writing, connecting to nature, and integrating myself with the culture there. I suppose it’s kind of a sabbatical – a chance to immerse myself in a new and novel environment and focus on the things that matter most: health, family, and music!
From there I hope to spend some time touring in the US and beyond that the rest of the world, the solar system and beyond...
Finally, what other gigs and productions are in the pipeline before you leave the country?
I’m arranging a few farewell events in the UK before I leave. One at Bass Laboratory in Liverpool on July 25th, and one in London on August 1st (details tbc). Hopefully also one in the south-west.
Thanks for your time Steve! Very much looking forward to your set at Astral Circus!
Hedflux on FaceBook
Hedflux on Soundcloud
Luminus Music on Soundcloud
Luminus Music on Bandcamp
Catch Hedflux playing one of his last UK sets at Astral Circus on Friday 26 June at Brixton Jamm, where FlibbertiGibbet will be warming up the alternative room for Hedflux, GAUDI, Sprocket, Andy Force, Mr Black and Miss Kiff.
Images courtesy of Joe Hubert Photography and Mojo Film. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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