Broken beats from around the world.
Combining for the latest edition are Melbourne’s Jon Watts and Sydney’s Hugh Burridge (aka Hubert Clarke Jr). Both talented jazz musicians in their own right (Jon a guitarist and Hugh a drummer), the duo share a natural affinity for the jazzier, worldly sounds found across the wider broken beat spectrum. Their debut Another View EP for Hugh’s Outer Time Inner Space label last year presented a brilliantly executed first glimpse into their shared palette of jazz inspired sounds, ranging from saxy liquid drum & bass to groovy percussive deep house. The pair put on another magnificently chilled out display here, jumping between tempos and styles with absolute ease. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
Hey guys, what have you both been up to?
Jon: Hey Myles, I was in Sydney last week for a visit with family and friends, now getting back to it at home with the cats. One of our cats went missing the other week. Was a scary time. He is back home safe now. Glad its over.
Hugh: Yeah, Jon came up to visit and we had a lovely evening talking music, drinking (too much) wine and watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Just got absolutely flogged on the basketball court tonight but otherwise doing ok.
As trained musicians I know you’ve both discovered electronic music in your own unique ways, what can you each tell us about that, and how do you feel this has shaped the kind of music you’re both creating and are most inspired by today?
Jon: My early experiences of electronic music would have been going to the NOWnow festival of spontaneous music. Before this I was pretty much just practicing jazz guitar. Hearing and watching people play feedback systems and modified acoustic instruments really changed my ideas on music. Then being involved as a performer changed it even more. I then went to study composition and worked as a sound engineer which also taught me heaps. It wasn’t until quite a bit later on that I discovered dance music.
My first go at playing was a pretty big laugh. There was a free Saturday night at a club I was working at, Goodgod Small Club that happened to align with my birthday so with the help of some friends we threw a party playing UKG from beginning to end. The party was called Champain Lyf out of my respect for the drink and my horrid ability to spell. The party went well, to my surprise a lot of people like UKG. Even when played with questionable skill. After that the owner asked if we could put together some people to play UKG from 3-5am in the bar ever Saturday night. Pre-lock out Sydney times. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but it was a lot of fun.
I feel the music I’m inspired by, make and play today kind of floats between these two attitudes, a little tricky to navigate sometimes but i think I’m getting somewhere.
Hugh: My musical education was kind of unorthodox, it began quite late in life and was far less rigorous, than someone like Jon. Not too long after high school I developed a keen interest in jazz music, this grew steadily over several years spent dissecting hip hop records, soon I had purchased an MPC and begun making beats. It wasn’t long before I wanted a deeper understanding of Jazz music primarily. So, I bought a drum kit, taught myself for a year then moved to London to study percussion. Whilst there I was extremely lucky to meet a dear friend with whom I am still close, he ran a club night in London and we would swap music. I had fallen in love with albums like Africa Hitech’s “93 Million Miles”. When my friend gave me a USB loaded with Theo Parrish’s “When The Morning Comes” and Steve Tang’s “Ominous” I was floored! It had everything I wanted to hear, expansive jazz elements and crazy drum programming, plus you could dance to it, my favourite thing to do! I’m still just searching for and trying to write music that makes me feel like that music did when I first heard it.
On that note, you both seem heavily influenced by broken beat music in its many forms, from dub to jungle, D&B and UKG.. and it feels as though you guys (along with Rings Around Saturn / Turner Street Sound) are kind of leading the charge for a new wave of Australian broken beat music. How do you feel this is being received so far?
Hugh: We both enjoy pushing a mix in different directions, generally people seem pretty receptive to what we play. I’ve never spoken to Jon directly about this but I think it just stems from our mutual respect for improvised music, there are weird but welcome events that occur when you take risks in live music, same goes for a DJ set. The styles we play have commonalities; similar harmonic relationships, syncopation, badman fucking bass lines (lol) it’s a tired cliche but it’s all just dance music. We mostly play OTIS parties and our crowd is great! If we wind up in Jungle after playing an hour of House, I honestly think most people just take a moment adjusting the speed of their body roll, then get on with it.
With our recorded music, personally I just wanted the EP to reflect this approach. We love RAS and TSS, getting Rory to make that amazing dub of our track was like the best decision ever. I’m not sure how people feel about our record but I think, at least, we offered a small cross-section of our own taste in “club” music.
Jon: I feel there has always been been bit of a UK leaning crew about that have always been pretty into the broken beat feels. It has been nice to hear it push out to being sandwiched in between some house or techno though.
Hugh, what can you tell us about the evolution of OTIS (Outer Time Inner Space) from a Sydney record shop to its latest form as a record label, how did that shift come about and what’s on the horizon for the label?
Hugh: To be honest it was out of necessity, the store started as a bit of fun for my girlfriend and I, a place to talk music with friendly people from around the traps. When our rental situation changed, we just figured it was more productive to put the money in to releasing local music than paying a landlord. There’s a lot going on this year, I have a solo EP due in April. There’s a VA of Dub related weirdness which I’m incredibly excited about. Coincidentally Rory and Ryan from Turner Street Sound will both be showing up in some form or another 😉 those guys have both been really inspiring for me. Then some projects still in the pipes from local Sydney acts which are also shaping up to be crackers. Oh and another one from our boy, the first son of OTIS, Sean Thomas. That’s hopefully not too far off!
Jon, I know since making the move down to Melbourne last year you’ve set up a studio and have been working on a bunch of solo material, what can you tell us about that and when can we expect to hear the next instalment?
Jon: I was super lucky when i moved to find a space so quickly, and also lucky to be sharing the building with lots of great people and the space with a good friend. I’ve ended up working on a pretty wide range of stuff this year and have been a little bit slow to commit to anything but it looks like something will be coming out around late March. It is more of a return to some of the early stuff I was working on, which is a bit different to the stuff I’ve done with Hugh. Coming out on a friends label that launched last year, Sumac. It has been nice to spend the year getting familiar with producing electronic music in a more structured sense, without a real end goal in sight. Hopefully i can give my time a little more structure this year and get some more stuff out.
What can you tell us about this mix you’ve recorded for us, it really covers a lot of bases… what are some of your favourite bits in there?
Jon: Playing with Hugh is always fun. Sometimes I get stressed about what to play but it’s always chill with Hugh and feel that comes through with where we go. This mix is cut from a long set we played on a Sunday day / evening at Freda’s bar in Sydney. At a party put on by the great and unique human Kato. I’ve always been a fan of the points that move between styles, sometimes we nail them, sometimes we don’t but I always enjoy trying to go for it and when you do pull one off it’s a pretty nice feeling. I’m always super into hearing it when someone goes somewhere you’re not expecting but it makes sense. There are definitely a couple times in this mix that Hugh has done that.
Hugh: Yeah and Jon’s manual LFO on the volume fader to seamlessly bridge genres is the perfect example of this, coincidentally also my favourite moment!
What’s coming up next for you both?
Hugh: I’m hoping to start a meditation/music therapy retreat on the south coast of NSW with my partner but if I’m honest, that probably won’t be till I finally decide to go full monk, sell all my current studio gear and buy a Buchla. So, 2019 maybe?
Jon: Not super certain at the moment but I’ve finally come to accept that I am a foodie. So probably start an instagram dedicated to that and my cats.