Ethyl & Flori and their fabric x Fear of Flying Mix

Meeting during their student years in Birmingham, Tim Hopgood (aka Ethyl) and Jamie Taylor (aka Flori) have maintained a close relationship both in the studio and behind the decks. In their output they draw on skills garnered studying sound production back in Brum and perhaps the best cross section of their work can be found in the podcast they delivered for Little White Ear Buds last year - a mix they put together using 100% of their own production, which the pair readily admit is something of a rarity. The mix perfectly showcases the pair's aptitude for creating tracks that stand outside of the standard four four template, with their pleasingly rugged analogue grooves aligning with silvered synths. In our minds we feel that they're onto something pretty special, exercising their ability at working up through varying intensities on the techno spectrum.

Now located in London, Ethyl & Flori have been releasing tracks together since 2006 - finding friends in Secretsundaze, Freerange and Fear of Flying - and they’ve recently landed a fortnightly radio show on the Leeds based KMAH station. They're also coming to Room Three on 30th May and to mark the occasion they’ve recorded an exclusive promo mix to demonstrate what types of things they're playing in the club right now - a very different prospect from their LWE mix and their radio broadcasts. Plus we also got to exchange some questions with the duo to find out exactly why they are hesitant of playing their own tracks and what other plans are afoot in their release schedule...

Download: Ethyl & Flori fabric x Fear of Flying Promo Mix

I was reading your interview for LWE earlier in the year and I was pretty surprised to learn that you don’t usually play your stuff out especially when the accompanying mix you specially made them was 100% your production is actually pretty awesome…is this still the case? Why don’t you think you were big on playing your own stuff before?

Flori: It’s generally still the case. I think we both prefer playing other people’s music and quite often our productions don’t necessarily marry up with our DJ sets. Thank you for the compliment though.

Ethyl: Thanks, pleased you liked it. And yes, at the expense of the obvious self promotion benefits, it's still very much the case. Producing and DJing are separate disciplines in my mind. You're naturally not going to feel the same things in the studio as you do in a darkened room surrounded by dancers and alcohol so I think our productions come from a different place to our DJ sets. Couple that with the fact that you've heard your own stuff on loop for too long to be healthy, and, so long as the egomania is kept at bay, I think you should naturally be drawn to other people's music.

This last interview was back in 2014 – what’s been happening since then?

We’ve been getting things ready for our new label, E&F Records, been busy with remixes and original work, voting and playing the occasional party.

It’s good to see you guys have a regular slot up on KMAH now the station’s really been doing good stuff since the launch – how’ve you found doing a radio show compared to DJing in the club? Does it differ much?

Yeah, we're on Wednesday fortnightly, 8-10pm. We've lived in the same house for just over a year now. There are five of us that live together including four DJs so we started streaming a weekly radio show of sorts from the house when we moved in. We had a couple of webcams set up and used to play music and tit about on the cameras in the background. Arthur Barr, one of the founders of KMAH (the 'A', in fact) got in touch well over a year ago when they first conceived the idea and I said we'd be happy to contribute. When it came into existence we swapped over our pseudo Boiler Room shambles to the radio show proper. We still do it from home, just don't have to do our hair for it any more.

It's funny you should bring up the club/radio question, though. It can be a bit of a conflict of how to play it. With all the shows being recorded and hosted online, naturally you'll get more people listening to the download after the live broadcast but you don't want to just be putting out a fortnightly podcast, it's got to be more than that or at least different. You do want people to know what you play in a club too so there's a trade off especially as our tastes are broad. We've settled on doing an eclectic show one in every three or four to slake that thirst. It's a great opportunity to rediscover records, B-sides and sub genres you've since forgotten about.

One thing I’ve noticed is that compared to your earlier releases and sound things have toughened up somewhat like there’s some denser more intense rhythms at work whereas the earlier records were a bit more deep and laid back – is this an accurate observation? Can you pin point any factors that influenced this, or does it just feel like a natural progression to you?

Flori: I think that's an accurate observation. Music evolves and so does your interpretation of it. You're missing out if you remain static. My favourite thing is new music so I’m forever seeking it.

Ethyl: It's definitely evolved and hats off to anyone that's followed us from our early outings. It certainly doesn't feel like we've taken any u-turns but not being prolific in our output can sometimes mean each release seems a little disparate from the last. The lines between the dots however are definitely filled in with our DJ sets which is a better representation of where we are musically.

"Music evolves and so does your interpretation of it. You're missing out if you remain static."

Can you talk us through your production process a bit – you guys share a house and a studio right? What kind of set up do you use in the main?

Ethyl: Yeah we share the studio so most of the output over the last year has been joint. The process tends to change for each record but in the main we try and get a loop going then in a live take expand on it to get the bones of the track down. Having four hands means we can get the beats and maybe top line down in one take. Then in another couple of run throughs effects and other broader changes. I like to spend a bit of time getting a bit nerdy in post on the computer before I'd call anything finished. Actually I'm not sure anything is finished, abandoned might be more accurate.

For beats we've been using the MFB Tanzbär and the Elektron RYTM. Synths come from the Nord Lead, DSI Evolver and Ensoniq SQ80. The Moog Minitaur usually takes care of the low stuff and we've got quite a few pedals to make all those sounds a little less vanilla. We usually run everything through a pretty modest outboard signal chain, a valve EQ and some drive to glue things together. I'm no gear nut but I do think swapping something new into the studio can be enough to inspire something fresh.

Being London based and so many issues going on right now – what do you think is good the city still has to offer you guys as producers and DJ’s?

Flori: London still has loads to offer folk like us. Fantastic record shops like Kristina, Honest Jon’s and Sounds of the Universe; great club spaces small and large (despite the ongoing closures and licensing issues) - Dance Tunnel, Canavan’s, Bloc, Studio Spaces and fabric all spring to mind. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Ethyl: London's always been diverse and evolving. The East seems to cater for bigger lineups and venues where the South seems to champion a road less trodden. It's a huge city with pockets of thriving scenes spread across it. You only need to scratch the surface to find decent lineups, parties and venues. It still surprises me regularly. Cafe OTO put on some great alternative nights, Peter Gordon is hosting an Arthur Russell instrumentals night down there soon for example. On another note I've always found the city itself to be a great inspiration. Architecturally and historically it's unique and yes it can be expensive and unforgiving but as Samuel Johnson said... "when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life"

You’re coming to play for us next as part of a Fear of Flying showcase and since you actually only hooked up a release with them for the first time in 2014, I wanted to ask, were you guys fans of the label previously?

Flori: Fear Of Flying has been one of the most consistent UK labels for our corner of electronic music over the last few years. It's introduced me to the likes of Roger Gerressen and Ivano Tetelepta and regularly champions British talent in the form of Leif, BLM, Matthew Burton and Nick Lawson. Our first outing on the label was actually back in 2010 when we did a remix for our good friend Leif...

Ethyl: We've always been big fans of the label and have been good friends with Ben (BLM) and Jay (Massive) for years now. It's funny because Ben and I send our own music to each other regularly and I've never really explicitly said it was for consideration for his label(s) until 'The Last Ninja', which came out at the end of last year. So it's definitely well overdue.

What have you got coming up release wise have you got any releases slated?

E&F Records’ inaugural release, Lion City, is due to drop in June. It's been a long time coming before we thought it was the right time to have our own platform for original Ethyl & Flori works. The first one is a AA-side, vinyl only (at least to begin with) with a dub on the reverse. A version of it was included on the LWE mix we were talking about earlier.

We've also got an EP coming up on Aim, called Empyrean Woman - three originals and Edward from Giegling has done a really cool remix for it.

To round off our chat can you tell us about how you put this mix together does it contain any more of your upcoming material and or feature the cuts at the top of your record bags at the moment?

We recorded it at home in our studio with 1200s and CDJs. It’s definitely a dancefloor focussed effort with lots of forthcoming stuff from friends. Tom Dicicco, Ed Davenport, BLM and Endian were all kind enough to fire over some brand new material - we could have included it all! There’s some older techno bits in there too and we finish things off with one of our new tracks, Kuju from the forthcoming Aim EP. Energy and movement are really important to us when programming mixes and in a club environment you have a lot more time to cover the breadth of your sound. In an hour it can be tempting to only focus on one facet of what we do but we hope we’ve presented a mix with some degree of elegance.

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