Intrusion interview

It's rare that I am impressed with someone as a person or musician after interviewing them but Chicago's Steve Hitchell aka Intrusion not only makes GREAT music but here he drops some serious K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E.

Tell me a little bit about your connection with analog gear, it's obviously a big part of the music you make. With so many youngsters now making tracks using software based solutions, why is there still a need for good old fashion gear and a roots tradition in techno?

You are correct, I love analog gear more than most people given the large amount of people producing music entirely on a computer today. I still remember in the late 80's when I purchased one of my first synthesizer's and it was entirely analog, a Korg Polysix. Back then they were practically giving those away, the new craze was digital synths so you would come across old analog gear for a very good price. I bought a Micromoog D back then for $250 and a Korg MS20 for less than that at a garage sale, everyone wanted digital so I suppose it was a good time to collect analog gear. I collected a lot of synth's back then, but the reason I went for analog had more to do with the price range than the preference. I personally would have loved to get a Fairlight CMI or Synclavier back then but those early digital synth's went for $10,000+ for starter level units in the 80's. Part of my love for old synths and analog equipment has less to do with how it sounds and more to do with what I'm used to using. The majority of producers releasing music today feel most comfortable in front of a computer and I feel most comfortable producing using a hybrid of the two worlds, I like computers for sequencing and writing but not for sound sources.

Speaking of analog, while your Basic Channel influences may be more obvious, I also hear a lot of Richard Wright's pioneering hand in your work. How big an influence was Pink Floyd in your musical development?

One of the first concerts I remember of my childhood was a Pink Floyd show, they had a huge impact on me back then. That was the first time I distinctly recall hearing field recordings incorporated with live sound, analog synths mixing along with acoustic instruments, they did a lot to help introduce the world to electronic music and for that I believe were are all in their debt.

Let's also talk about your connection to dub music as well as techno. There are few artists that have balanced both sounds so well. You avoid the drum rolls and overt loping breakdowns that would identify your music as dub reggae and yet maintain a dense, evolving, organic nature that most loop based music just doesn't have. Is it your experience of being in bands, your love of reggae music, an obsession with the futurism of Underground Resistance, or a combo of these elements that gives your music a unique quality?

Well, this question is a challenge, I would like to believe the unique quality in my music is simply the way I write and produce, the emotion and heart I put into it. I am sure the way I produce is different than others out there, how I record my music is most likely different than most people producing electronic music today. I also design all of my own sounds, whenever I get a new piece of gear the first thing I do is erase its factory ROM or RAM and start from the ground up. The one aspect of this music I love the most is sound design, maybe even more than the actual music. I studied engineering which is also a passion of mine, I like to design a lot of my own custom hand made effects and hardware in my garage, I always have some kind of project going on. I recently made a reverb unit out of a Slinky, the end result was quite interesting, the sound would change drastically as I stretched it along the surface. The acoustics behind these types of experiments fascinate me, the end results are usually quite noisy and most of the time less than ideal sound quality which is very different from the DSP world of today. I think these methods of altering sound are a big reason why I love King Tubby so much, he designed a lot of his effects by hand, in some cases bought gear that didn't work and had to fix it but fix it his way, make each unit his own, alter its engineering, replace parts, and the end result was usually mind blowing.

Tell me about the differences in the music you make as say Soultek or [echospace] with partner Rod Modell as opposed to Intrusion.

The Soultek project was an experiment as much as Echospace or Intrusion, they are all different reflections of myself. The Soultek work is bit more free, more room to explore and head in different directions, I never really set out to do one sound with this project. Intrusion and Echospace were a bit more focused on a certain sound or method to recording the music. Intrusion for example was based around a technological event which brought all the music together, most of the work was recorded on the same reel to reel, which is what ties the sound together more than the music.

Your latest album "Seduction Of Silence" captures the best elements of the "space between sounds" that Brian Eno once described. Tell me a little bit about the process you used to create the dynamic range of sounds found on the album?

This album was recorded in many places over a great deal of time, some of the songs on the album were made back in 1994 and others were made in 2008 but they have one common thread, the way they were recorded. The process was slightly different with each song, some of the songs I recorded using hardware I don't have any longer and haven't for years. The fact this album is a collection of songs from 10+ years ago really helps explain the dynamic range of the sounds found within the album. I change my studio around quite often, I sell gear, buy new gear, run new patch bays, and virtually have a new set up every year. This process helps in keeping me interested and helps keep the sound new but with the good comes the bad, if I ever ever want to go back to try and replicate something I did in the past it would be virtually impossible.

Your label still presses up vinyl, is there still a future for the 12" dance single? There are good arguments pro and con, how do you feel about the state of the DJ single?

Well, from the perspective of a guy who owns over 10,000 records I hope vinyl lasts forever! I think there will always be a guy like me, a person who may not be out dj'ing every weekend but has a deep love and respect for the format. I am genuine fan of the medium, the sound, the color, the artwork, the feel, I know it's all a matter of preference but to me vinyl will always sound warmer and more dynamic. I don't know what is happening in the DJ market as I don't press records for a DJ, I make music for the home listener and music lover, if it gets play by DJ's that is terrific, but it is honestly the last reason I ever released my music on this format or why I believe in vinyl so strongly. Vinyl is art, from its visual effect, its appeal and its sound, digital (in any format) will never compare to the warmth found on a properly mastered piece of wax, just listen.

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