Hodge in conversation with Callahan

02.02.16

Hodge is a producer for labels from Hotline Recordings to Livity Sound, playing with the harder and more abrasive edges of techno. Callahan is one half of the duo Mak & Pasteman and has just newly started producing solo, melding UK flavours together for Bristol’s 4Seasons and Dext Recordings.

Since they’re both people contributing towards Bristol’s scene and Hodge recently took time out of his busy touring schedule to do a remix of Callahan’s track Don’t Need, it seemed like an opportune time to get them on the phone together.  

The Don’t Need remix isn’t the first time they’ve interacted, having met and played at a 4Seasons party together in Bristol back in 2014. In their b2b conversation, they go further into how they met, the drive to Croatia that ended in a framed picture from Hodge’s dad and how they both prefer sitting down with equipment and a sound desk to picking from a sample pack on the laptop.

First meetings

Callahan: We met in Bristol didn’t we? That’s where I did my first EP with those guys under Callahan but we were talking before then I think. I think I hit you up after a tune that you did.

Hodge: It was via your Rinse show as well.

Callahan: Oh yeah you did a guest mix on our Rinse show!

Hodge: I did the guest mix for your Rinse show and now I’ve got my own! So it’s quite nice how that’s all come together.

Callahan: And now your Rinse show is the one I listen to the most weirdly [Laughs].

Remixing Don’t Need

Hodge: When I got asked to do this remix [of Don’t Need], it was one of those rare times that I was back for maybe a week for shows. Last year I must have gigged nearly every weekend barring about four or five. It was a full on schedule and then I just happened to be back here. You fired the stems over to me but I was like screw it, I’m going to see if I can come up with something and it rolled out for me so fast. I played out that weekend and dropped it without telling the guys I’d done it and the crowd went off so I was like okay. It was quite nice and organic the way it worked.

Callahan: And then you sent it back, me and James were absolutely gassed on it, then you went back on the road and we didn’t hear from you for ages. We were like “Noooooo! What’s going on?” but fortunately it all came together and I’m fucking chuffed with it. It’s exactly what I’m excited about in UK music, it’s UK but it draws from other stuff as well.

Producing with equipment vs sitting at the laptop

Hodge: How did you go about writing the actual 12”, what was the concept behind it or any major influences that got you writing it?

Callahan: I’m really into pedals like you are. I’d got a load of pedals and stuff that started to sound really nice together. I wanted it to sound fucked up but not too fucked up. It was more about experimenting without the computer as well because it bores me a lot – just making beats by clicking on a screen.

Hodge: Were you bouncing this stuff around a lot then?

Callahan: I would use my mood pedals or pre amp and then sometimes just go in ham through the Mackie desk.

Hodge: So many people trying to write roughed up stuff use a load of software distortions and it just does not sound right. It’s that raw, analog feel when you run something through a desk that you really want to go for. I’ve got so much respect for guys who can write music just on software because I don’t know how they do it.

When I’m on a plane or a train trying to write a tune, it just sounds like shit [Laughs].

Callahan: When you run something through a pedal, you get a vibe straight away and that’s inspiring.

Hodge: I just don’t know how people sit there on laptops and get such a nice sound. That’s why I haven’t been writing so much recently because if I haven’t got my hardware, I swear I just can’t write anything decent.

I think what it comes down to is that I’m not very good at producing but I like buying lots of equipment and it comes out as a happy medium.

Callahan: When I started out, it would be like you’d vibe off samples and then as you’ve heard a million and one people use the same samples it becomes so hard. You might find one good sample a week so you have to get your inspiration from something else and it’s more unpredictable.

That’s what I like about equipment, it throws stuff at you that you just wouldn’t get in a computer. It’s rigid on a computer whereas with something that’s physical, it’ll do wild shit and sound good.

"As you’ve heard a million and one people use the same samples it becomes so hard. You might find one good sample a week so you have to get your inspiration from something else and it’s more unpredictable" – Callahan

Driving to Croatia

Callahan: I remember playing a show in Dublin and specifically asking for things and we got there and they didn’t even have tone arms on the decks, let alone cartridges [Sighs] and it throws you off! It’s that DJs complaining thing, it’s still there in the background.

Hodge: I know, I’m trying my best not to be cynical and moan because it’s mental…

Callahan: Surely you’re not in on that, you drove to Croatia.

Hodge: Honestly, every gig I’ve done I’ve been asked about that. I’ve gone all the way to Japan and I’m so excited to be there. I sit down to have some sushi with a Japanese guy who doesn’t speak any English and he somehow asks me “you drove to Croatia?” and I’m like yep, you know too! Everyone seems to know about it.

My dad framed it and then Resident Advisor then posted a news story up that my dad had framed it. I was thinking, is this going to go on forever? There’s gonna be a frame in a frame in a frame in a minute.

Callahan: Best covert PR campaign ever.

Hodge: Accidental genius right [Laughs]. I had certain people in the music industry, not people who make music but PR people I know email me saying, do you actually have a problem with your ears or are you a genius? I was like, I do have a problem with my ears, I don’t want to be driving. But I’m glad I did it.

Living in Brixton and Bristol

Callahan: When I started this project I had moved to Brixton and there’s such a real energy here and it’s even changed since first moved, it was a lot shitter when I first moved.

Hodge: When did you move there?

Callahan: About two years ago. It got gentrified really quickly. I just really like the roughness of it and the atmosphere, I like the atmosphere when I’m recording. There’s a noise here, I live next to a fire station so there’s drills all the time. If I get up and hear the Overground I know it’s at least 5am, it tunes into me a bit.

Hodge: Bristol’s not really like that for me, it’s quite nice. You can get the quiet if you need it, it’s such a nice place. What I like is that it’s such a safe vibe. You never feel like you’re in danger at all, even if the crackheads in Stokes Croft approach you, there’s no fear or anything.

Callahan: The only danger being ripped off for laughing gas after a rave.

Hodge: God I do not touch that stuff, that will send you insane! That will kill your brain cells.

"I find it very weird to come back from a communist memorial, make a track and then play it at Dimensions and loads of people with their tops off jump up and down" – Hodge

Hodge – Burned Into Memory

Callahan: Did the title for Burned Into Memory come from George Takei?

Hodge: I can’t remember where exactly it came from, I was reading a book at the time. Basically I’d been out in Berlin and seen the communist memorial and then the next day I got back I wanted to write a tune. I had it in my head that I wanted to put a lede that sounded like some kind of communist marching. It’s such an impressive place to go to, giant statues and it’s such a dark place as well if you think about all the burials under it.

When I came back I had that in my head, I wanted to capture that in it. I made it brutally hard as well. Every time I play it out when the bass hits I’m like [laughs]…oops. Sometimes you don’t realise how hard you’ve gone until it’s in the context of a set.

Callahan: 100%! When the system is just right as well, that’s the buzz.

Hodge: I normally won’t explain the concept of a track because that’s my thing but I find it very weird to come back from a communist memorial, make a track and then play it at Dimensions and loads of people with their tops off jump up and down [laughs]. It’s a really weird concept.

Callahan: The reason I said that George Takei thing is I watched a TED talk and he was talking about how he got moved over to America as a kid and he was living in a motel with all these crackheads and he said that it was “burned into memory”. You should sample it… actually I might sample it [laughs]. 

Don't Need is out now via Dext Recordings (buy).