We chat to the groundbreaking new artist Hazing about his debut EP.
Photograph: Andrew Nuding
Hazing is a vocalist and producer crafting wistfully melancholic music of the best kind. Growing up between Holland and Dublin, the 25-year-old was first inspired to commit to music seriously when he was living in Vancouver, where the thriving underground music scene electrified him and reinvigorated his passion for crafting songs. Fast forward a while, transpose the action to London, and Hazing was picked up by the de facto kings of the indie label scene, Happy Valley Records.
On his recently released debut EP, “Joy Void”, Hazing forms a deliciously drifting blend of lo-fi synths, psychedelic textures and soft, dreamy vocals. It’s a potent combination and one whose heightened atmosphere is set to make Hazing an important fixture in London’s nebulous and ever shifting synth-pop scene. We got the opportunity to talk with the man himself about his creative process, the beauty of Dublin, and why Connan Mockasin has a truly redemptive power.
Your EP reminds me a bit of the Drive soundtrack – at least it is very synthy, ambient and cinematic, kind of melancholy, it brings up a lot of imagery. What kind of mood/atmosphere did you have in mind when writing the music?
I guess the environment you’re in will sometimes come through in the music you make. The music for the EP was all written and recorded late at night last winter in cold rainy Dublin, in the middle of town. The opening track is probably the most atmospheric and with that one I was sort of trying to capture that vibe of walking home after a late night, when the streets are totally empty. My way home from the studio in the mornings would take me up along the quays which is a pretty desolate place around that time.
Do you feel like there’s a strong link between visuals (in your head, what the viewer is imagining) and your music?
I think so, though it might be different for each listener.
What was your starting point with making the EP – what concept did you come from? How did it grow?
I had just returned to Ireland after spending some time in Canada and the West Coast and had decided to start making music again. I began renting a studio with my friend Aidan, got some gear together and just got really into recording and writing. It was all I did for a while. I didn’t have any kind of clear idea at the start what kind of music I wanted to make or anything like that, I was just messing around with synths and guitars and that sort of became the sound I settled on. After I finished the songs I showed them to a couple of friends but that was it. It wasn’t until a little while later that Max from Happy Valley Records got in touch saying he’d heard my music through a friend and was interested in releasing it. By this time I had moved to London and I was unsure about whether to keep going with music. Getting involved with Happy Valley though changed my perspective and totally got me psyched to keep making music. I suppose it all worked out in the end.
How long does it take you to lay down a track – do you go into hiding super-focused mode when you’re working? The process is super different for everyone.
I’ll usually start off with a sample of some kind, maybe a synth sound that I’ve recorded on tape or a guitar loop, and build upon that. That can go pretty quickly, adding in the different elements, that’s the fun part. But bringing something to the point of being a completely finished song can take a bit of time. Often I’ll demo something onto a cassette and listen back to it for a while and then take it from there.
The songs from the EP were all recorded at night. Going to the studio in the evening and staying until the next morning and just recording all night. The best way to finish things is just to work through the night until it’s done.
Is it easy for you to make music – does it flow? Is it mentally and spiritually draining? Do you treat it like work or as an artist, whenever you have a moment of inspiration that you can’t ignore…
It’s easy if I’m in the right state of mind, and it never feels like work. Sometimes it can be hard to get in the right vibe though, when you’re caught up in daily life. In Dublin I was quite lucky to have somewhere I could go to get away from it all and make noise. I don’t think I could afford anything like that here in London though, so I’ve had to adapt my way of working a bit.
I still like to work at night though, that hasn’t changed. I might stumble across a sound I like in the evening and before I know it it’ll be two or three in the morning and I have to be up in a few hours. I would much rather be working on music than sleeping though..
What kind of music/art/film have you consumed in the past that you feel influenced your sounds today? How do you think they had an effect…
I guess mostly synth stuff from the 80’s. Also ambient music, like Brian Eno and Wolfgang Voigt. That’s where the atmospheric vibe comes from.
And Connan Mockasin. I’d started out playing guitar as a kid, but after getting into electronic music I was playing less and less. Hearing Connan opened my eyes though. I started playing more again just for the sake of it and got myself a chorus pedal. That probably had something to do with hearing Connan..
We’d love to raid your record collection. Recommend us your top tracks – the weirdest and most wonderful you’ve got!
Michal Turtle – “are you psychic?” Don’t know much about this lad, but apparently he recorded this in his parents living room sometime in the 80’s.
Soil Creep – “Marthu Dudley” A catchy techno banger from Dublin’s Soil Creep