Strong foundations: The return of Hipp-E and Halo (aka H-Foundation)
A special interview with two beloved fabric veterans, H-Foundation, aka Hipp-E, and Halo.
Their long relationship with us has made them firm fabric favourites over the years, not least because of their residency with us back in the day. But this weekend they're back, so we thought it was the perfect time to catch up and reflect on the enduring legacy, and strong foundations, of this power-house music duo.
Despite hailing from the US, H-Foundation gained prominence in the late 90s and early 2000s. Countless memorable sets over the years, teamed with an ability to captivate our crowd quickly earned them a devoted following that went way beyond the EC1 postcode. The duo's music style can be described as a fusion of house, tech, and deep grooves; for H-foundation, classic and good house music has always been the name of the game. Their tunes and impact has never really gone away, with notable releases over the years on the likes of releasing tracks on influential imprints like Siesta Records, NRK Sound Division, and Soma Records. But lately their tracks have been picked up more prominently and rediscovered by a new generation of talented selectors – rising artist Fleur Shore even highlighted one of Hipp-E’s tracks in her recent interview with us. Meanwhile, behind the decks, the pair are known for their impeccable mixing skills, masterful track selection, and their ability to create an immersive and unforgettable journey through pulsating basslines, melodic hooks, and intricate rhythms.
After a hiatus, H-Foundation is making a highly anticipated return this Saturday 24th June. Their comeback gig promises to be a celebration of their illustrious career and a showcase of their signature sound alike. Simply put, their strong-as-anything foundations.
As individual artists, you both have had successful solo careers. How does working together as H-Foundation differ from your solo endeavours, and what unique strengths do each of you bring to the duo?
Hipp-E: I’ve done several collaborations with other artists and really enjoy the collaborative process although I have a lot of Solo projects it’s always been such a special connection and energy when Brian and I really click and get into a groove, we are both fathers now and things have changed in our lives but somehow this brotherly bond remains. When we connect and are able to communicate through music it just ends up being something special.
Halo: Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of collaborating with numerous artists, and while each collaboration holds its own magic, there is a special connection that I share with Hipp-E and the energy that flows between us gives birth to something magical.
Which artists or genres influenced your sound and style back in the day? Has that changed today?
Hipp-E: Coming from different areas in the US, Brian Being from Chicago and me being from Denver, our inspirations are all over the place! For me it’s been west coast and California sounds that really inspired me people that actually were bringing UK sounds the the US in San Francisco like Jeno & Garth, Markie, the whole Wicked! Crew, But one of the biggest influences for me has always been Doc Martin, I Remember going to parties in SF and LA and seeing his name and getting into some seriously heavy sessions listening to him play! He was and is always the West Coast's champion for underground music.
Halo: Growing up in the birthplace of "House Music," Chicago, I was profoundly shaped by DJs such as Gemini (Spencer Kincy), Ron Hardy, Mr Fingers, Derrick Carter, Boo Williams, Miles Maeda, Justin Long, and DJ Traxx. Their music and DJing have had a profound impact on my approach to producing and playing records today.
How does the set/performance differ as a duo behind the decks rather than just the one/solo?
Hipp-E: I think for me when Halo and I are playing B2B we tend to go on a bigger journey than when I play alone, we push each other in different ways musically.
Halo: Solo DJ sets are nice, but when we play B2B we always like to take you on a journey from beginning to end the same way we approach our production.
As a pair you’ve become known for your distinct blend of deep and tech house music, as well as captivating sets; How do you navigate the creative process when selecting and mixing tracks for your sets, and what elements do you prioritize to create a cohesive and memorable experience?
Hipp-E: for week’s leading up to playing together we always start bouncing tracks back and forth to each other Halo will send me links to new tracks he’s into and vice versa we will find old digs and rip old vinyl to have stuff that not everyone is playing our goal is always to play a set that is full of timeless tracks.
Halo: Our dedication to our DJ sets has always been paramount to us. We invest a lot of time in preparation and curation, ensuring that our sets are thoughtfully crafted. We like to play a lot of tracks that maybe you never have heard before including a lot of older tracks that have inspired us through the years.
"One of those late 90s early 00s groovers that’s been in my sets a lot lately. The drums are just insane on this track and the bongos give me life! The bassline is just chugging the track along and along and along! BOMB.COM." – Fleur Shore on Hipp-E's "R U Feeling Me"
As previous club residents, and beloved regulars over the years, what does it mean to be returning to fabric this summer?
We can’t be more excited to really reignite our H Foundation collaboration DJ sets at fabric. fabric has always been one of the highlights of both of our careers, and being able to play along side our long-time friend Terry Francis is just icing on the cake! We can’t wait to be back in the club and reunited with our fabric family
What fond memories of fabric do you have? (performances or otherwise!)
Hipp-E: Wow there are too many to name! I would say our very first time coming over and being introduced to Craig and his wife Amanda, Judy, Nikki and Keith and being treated so well and welcomed was overwhelming! We knew this was going to be a very special Club just the energy around the team and the curation of artists that weren’t just big already they always looked for what’s new and quality not just trends I loved that!
Halo: I will never forget the 1st time we played at fabric, that memory will stay with me forever.
Did you have a favourite fabric room back in the day?!
Hipp-E: Room 1 would get pretty steamy for sure!
Halo: Room 1 without a doubt, but I've heard Room 2 is the new Room 1 now...
In an archive interview with RA you said, ‘It is fun to see the surprise on people's faces when we play tunes that no one has heard,’ – How do you still manage to keep your sets interesting after all these years? How do you still manage to dig out surprises and curveballs in your sets?
Hipp-E: like I mentioned before we tend to dig and prep to insure that we are playing not just tracks that anyone can get or that are the “big” tunes we like to play music that is timeless whether it’s a track made this week or in 86! LOL..
Halo: I spend a lot of time digging thru my record collection and searching for those rare timeless records that we can include into our sets.
Got any memorable H-Foundation set moments from over the years?!
Hipp-E: I think it was a New Year’s Eve set one year not sure which year it was that we played but it was an incredible energy at the club I think it was one of the riders times they had a 24hr policy and you could stay in all weekend, vibes were heavy!
Halo: Yes I would have to agree with Hipp-E on that one also.
With electronic music constantly evolving, how do you stay inspired and continue to innovate within your DJ sets and productions?
Hipp-E: By keeping an open mind and being open to new sounds. Music evolves but at the same time it runs in cycles so sounds from the past end up being relevant today. I think that’s why we felt very strongly to push on.
Halo: We have always stayed true in the music we play and stayed away from the trends.
What inspires the need to work on solo projects versus coming back together and work together again?
Hipp-E: Well it’s pretty simple, the love of music!
Halo: Solo projects are fun but there's something special about that magic you can create working together.
In one of our recent features rising house selector Fleur Shore picked a Hipp-E track as one of the tracks she’s enjoying playing out at the moment! What new or emerging acts are on your radars right now?
Hipp-E: I was really humbled to see that post and still get humbled by people reaching out to me via Instagram telling me how my music has inspired them! At the same time I see it as opportunity to connect and create some new collaborations! I’m working with some great artists like Djebali, Lefthook, Chklte, JesusDaPnk, and hope to have tracks with Archie Hamilton and Chris Stussy as well! I’m definitely down to get on a track with Fleur if she’s into it! Let’s go!
How have you witnessed the evolution of the scene throughout the years, and how has H-Foundation adapted to the changing landscape of electronic music?
Hipp-E: Well having been involved in my scene in Denver since 1989 and throwing the first “Rave” in my city in 1990, I have really witnessed a massive transformation of the scene from being basically unknown to now MainStage I think we are currently in the adaptive phase of journey re entering the scene as we are now. But I am excited about the support we have received already.
Halo: Having experienced the evolution of the electronic music scene since the 90s, I've witnessed firsthand the healthy transformation and growth of electronic music. It's truly inspiring to see how the landscape of electronic music has changed over time. A significant factor contributing to this shift is the immense support we continue to receive from our DJ and producer friends. At the moment we have a few H-Foundation projects coming out including a remix for Ryan Crosson on Visionquest a remix for Ada Kaleh and an EP coming out on Curtea Veche also i a few solo collaberation projects with with Dana Ruh , Janaret, and an EP for my Muted Noise vinyl imprint.
How do you approach creating a sonic journey or narrative within your DJ sets, and what do you aim to evoke in your listeners through your music selection and mixing techniques?
Hipp-E: As we mentioned earlier, our mission is to bring an energy and sound that is both timeless and memorable.
Halo: Track selection has always been super important in our DJ sets, as we like to tell a story with the music that we are playing through the night.
H-Foundation's music has been well-received globally. How do you view the relationship between the artist and the audience, and how does the energy and feedback from the crowd influence your performances and musical choices?
Hipp-E: Well the crowd response and engagement is extremely important, at the same time the goal is to educate and use the set to be able to pull people in and create an energy that will make them feel good and make them dance!
Halo: It's always a great feeling when the audience is reacting to the music that you are playing especially when it is something a bit obscure that's when you know you have a well educated crowd.
What do you think about the direction house music, deep tech (etc), is taking at the moment?
Hipp-E: I do feel that some genres are really trending towards just cheesy vocal and non substantial messages that just please the masses. But in the end there is always going to be that, it has always been that there is a mainstream and an underground alternative I still lean toward the underground...
Halo: There are so many cheesy genres of music coming out these days but at the end of the day it always comes back to quality house music.
What’s the foundation of a great collaborative DJ set?
Hipp-E: The Music
Halo: It's the energy in the music that you feed off of each other.
Hipp-E and Halo return to Room 2 as H-Foundation on 24th June.
Words & Interview: Izzy Trott