NAARM - MELBOURNE
PRODUCER, LIVE ACT/MUSICIAN, SOUND ENGINEER, DJ
HYPERPOP, EXPERIMENTAL ELECTRONIC, BREAKS
Describe your past year in one sentence...
The past year was not what I had anticipated, but it was transformative and I learned lots of new things about myself and my work.
How did you end up as a part of the music industry?
In all honesty, I didn’t really consider myself as truly being a part of the music industry until very recently, probably about the same time as people started asking me to engineer their music. If I’m being real though, I probably started contributing to the industry about 5 years ago, when I started playing gigs and sharing the music I was making in my bedroom with others. Last year I released my debut record under the pseudonym Hyphira. Releasing and making this record was a big turning point in my career and creativity. I was very nervous before it came out, but once it did I felt a confidence in my skills that I hadn’t really previously experienced. I started offering to mix and produce tracks for my friends for free or very little money to build a catalogue of work. Overtime appraoched me until I felt that I could finally quit the hospitality job that I hated, and dedicate all my time to sound and music.
Tell us about your sound...
I mix, master and produce music for artists from my studio in Fitzroy, Narrm. I love all types of music, and have worked with artists across a range of genres from electronic dance styles, to new jazz, RnB and even some ambient stuff. I love engineering, particularly mixing. It sort of blows my mind how shifting graphics on a screen manipulates the way vibrations cut through the air, and how changing one thing in the mix can deeply affect the way a piece of music resonates with a listener’s emotions. A friend once described the perfect mix to me as being like a balanced ecosystem, I thought that was a very apt interpretation.
I also release music under the moniker Hyphira. This project has groundings in cybernetic feminist theory and explores the intersection of performative gender, technology, and the human voice in a hyper-pop and experimental electronic music context. I do quite a bit of composing for contemporary dance, theatre, and film, and recently started playing synth in a new wave/ psych band.
It sort of blows my mind how shifting graphics on a screen manipulates the way vibrations cut through the air, and how changing one thing in the mix can deeply affect the way a piece of music resonates with a listener’s emotions.
Do you have any new work coming out that you'd like to tell us about?
I’m currently in the writing stage for my second record. At the moment I have about 7 tracks, that are in varying states of completeness. It took me a long time to figure out what I was making. I listen to a lot of varied music, there are references to hyper pop, uk bass, and some sparser RnB vibes. Right now I’m trying to find a way to piece together all these ideas so that it feels like a cohesive work - I feel like it’s slowly getting there. Aside from that, I also recently finished co-producing and mixing Rita Bass’ 2-track EP “Apophenia/ Shaped Curve”, and am hoping to work the hybrid set I recorded for Fluxx’s Skylab show into a live show, so stay tuned!
What is your most memorable release to date?
Co-producing and mixing Dude by Yollks (Elle Tayla) for the Fluxx compilation last year was a big highlight. Elle came over to my house one evening in between lockdowns with a 30-second sketch of sounds and ideas. Over the space of maybe 2 hours, we fleshed out the track and worked it into the version that’s on the comp. It was also my first time mixing someone else’s music, I basically did the whole mix with stock plugins from Ableton and honestly, I think it’s one of the best mixes I’ve done. Since Elle put the track out, it’s had some pretty big moments, Mama Snake dropped it on Rinse FM and SCDD gave her some love for it. I guess I love that track not just because of it’s successes, but because making it was one of the funnest sessions I’ve had in the studio. It probably took about 4 hours to make that track, and it blows my mind how something that came together so quickly has resonated with so many people.
Releasing my debut record Inner Folding of Outer and the accompanying remix EP (feat. Georgia Bird, Solar Suite, RBI and Felicity Yang), was a big moment for me. I’d been sitting on those tracks for so long before they saw the light of day and it was very soothing to have them out in the world. The whole project was so conceptual that it felt like all the visual and accompanying elements fed into each other in a very organic way. I’m a concept-based composer and found the process of creating a big project that really honed in on a narrative and concept to be deeply cathartic.
How do you practice self-care?
Exercising and resting are two things that I do to care for myself. I started running years ago as a way of helping my mental health, and since then it’s become a pretty consistent part of my life. I find it very meditative, and it’s something that I do that’s just for me. I never thought I’d be one of those people that talks about “runner’s high” but turns out it’s definitely a thing (lol). I also try to keep a pretty normal sleep schedule (on the weekdays at least haha), I used to feel guilty about resting (especially sleeping in), but then I realised that was silly, and now I just sleep until I’m not tired anymore.
What’s your favourite record at the moment?
This question is hard, there are way too many to choose from! Björk’s album Vespertine will always be one of my favourite records. The beat making on it blows my mind, it’s like a big rhythmic tapestry of little filtersweeps and noisey little samples. It was made in the late 90s, and I read somewhere that it took Björk 3 years to program all the rhythms on whatever software they were using back in the day. I’ve also been enjoying Inner Song by Kelly Lee Owens, MAGDALENE by FKA Twigs, EARS by Kaitlyn Aurelia-Smith, Believer by Smerz, Meghalaya by Tiana Khasi and lots of other stuff too!
What's the best part about being in the music industry?
I love talking about music, so being surrounded by people who are equally as passionate (or obsessive - depending on how you swing it) feels pretty amazing. I also feel very lucky to work in a pretty tight-knit supportive community of artists and get really excited watching my friends from across the scene collaborate and work with each other. There’s so much amazing music being made in Narrm at the moment, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch.
How do you deal with creative roadblocks?
Honestly, not sure if I’ve fully figured this one out. Listening to lots of different things is important I think. I try to listen to everything, things I like, things that make me uncomfortable, things I find cheesy, or things that are too beautiful to wrap my head around. When I’m listening I try to really think about what it is I like or don’t like about a piece of music. If I’m stuck in the studio, I’ll look back through my music library and basically pick a track more or less at random. I’m a pretty rhythmically and texturally-minded producer, so usually, I’ll zone in on a groove or colour that resonates with me and try to replicate it on Ableton. I like this technique because it stops me from falling down a wormhole where I just play around with synths for hours and gives me a somewhat of a framework. By the end of the production stage the initial ‘borrowed idea’ always inevitably shifts into a new space or develops into something completely different from where it was when I began. It’s not an exact science and I have dozens of half-finished things stagnating on my hard drive that started this way, but I think the exercise of actively and listening, responding and developing really helps me push beyond writer’s block.
Listening to lots of different things is important I think. I try to listen to everything, things I like, things that make me uncomfortable, things I find cheesy or things that are too beautiful to wrap my head around.
Do you have any tips for artists in the final production stages?
My biggest tip for getting your mixes sounding hot is to make sure you really think about how all your elements will sit together in the track during the production phase. The most successful tracks I’ve mixed, are the ones where the producer has a really considered approach to what their high, mids and lows are. They know what the focal points of the track are, and are willing to compromise to ensure that each part finds its place. I remember when I was younger I’d get super attached to certain sounds and want everything to be present and prominent in the mix, but obviously that doesn’t really work that well because there’s a finite amount of energy and space that you have to work with. Finding good reference tracks is also very important. Think about the style you’re working in, and find a track with a similar context that sounds good to your ears. Refer back to it constantly when you’re working, and really try to think about why the mix sounds good to you. I tend to break up the ref track into 3 or 4 bands. I solo each band and do A/B comparisons with the track I’m making, taking note of similarities and things that I need to tweak in my mix. Parametric EQs with visual frequency spectrums are handy when you’re starting out because they also provide a visual point of reference if you’re not quite ready to trust your ears yet!
What are your predictions for the future of dance music and the industry?
I would really like to see more diversity in the non-audience facing facets of the industry. We have made some great advances in lineup diversity, but there doesn’t seem to be the same push in production and engineering spheres. There are so many wonderfully talented fem and GNC producer-engineers, it would be amazing to see more initiative being taken to help them crack into this very male-dominated corner of the music community.
Check out Hyphira's WIP Profile Page for more!