Him_Her_Self, two ultra-talented electronic music producers, are making waves with their tight and crips productions that waver between the duality of house and electro, dark and light, bumpy and swift, vocal and bassdriven. Hailing from the Midlands, the male-female outfit honed their skills in countless sweaty back rooms, never losing momentum despite struggling against unimaginative club structures in their native town of Leicester. After ten years of cutting their benchmark individually, Leon Baggotts and Claire Spooner finally got together as a production duo, which has led to an exponential output on labels as varied as Crosstown Rebels, Circle Music, Elite Records, Eskimo, Dialtone Records, Planet Acetate Records, to name but a few. Ahead of their upcoming show in London, we caught up with them to find out more about their unique sound and also managed to bag an exclusive mix from the duo, which you can listen to and download below.
CLICK BELOW FOR EXCLUSIVE HIM_SELF_HER MIX
Hi Him_Self_Her, thanks for joining us. For those that are unfamiliar with your work could you introduce yourselves and what you do?
Thanks for having us! We kind of like our music to speak for itself, but to give us a quick introduction…we are a male/female DJ & production duo based in the Midlands UK, and we make house music with feeling!
I assume that before you both met, you were individual producers in your own right. Why did you decide to team up and pursue music together?
Yes we were, in fact we had both spent well over ten years working really hard on the Midlands house scene as DJs and event promoters trying to catch a break. We both started out playing on vinyl and moved through a range of electronic genres over the course of that decade. We found ourselves playing a lot of the same events, quite often before or after each other, and our style and track selection always seemed to click together really well. After a while we made the decision to get into the studio together, just for fun at first… but the results were so instant that we knew we had to make it a formal partnership, and Him_Self_Her was born.
Explain the dynamic in the studio. Is it a very shared experience or do you have specific roles?
We often joke that if people saw us in the studio they would think we were crazy! We always have so much fun when we are producing and put so much passion into it and we would like to think that comes across in our music. All our tracks are produced with us both there together from start to finish so it is pretty equal in that respect, but we do have individual roles in the studio. Although people often misjudge the partnership, Claire actually takes the lead on the technical side of the productions after completing a Degree in Music Technology and spending the last few years really developing her studio skills. Leon has a huge creative input though and makes a lot of the decisions in terms of style, sounds, structure and so on.
The main thing is that we really bounce off each other in the studio… maybe one day we will post up a video clip or two of us in the studio and let people see just how it works…if we feel brave enough!
The name Him_Self_Her is clever. It suggests that despite being a duo, you both feel it’s important that your individual selves come through in the music. Would you agree?
Definitely. We actually spent a long time working on the name and went through lots of ideas that weren’t good enough before we came up with Him_Self_Her. We were even trying to imagine Pete Tong reading the name out on his show to make sure it sounded cool enough, ha ha! But once we thought of this one we were really happy with it – and you guys have summed up exactly what we were trying to say with the name.
You’ve certainly developed a very robust, contemporary sound. Where does this come from in both of you? What are your main electronic influences?
Thank you! Something that really seems to have helped our sound is the fact that we are both total music fanatics and we always have been. We take influence from all genres of music and never stop listening to tracks, old and new, and are constantly sending each other links to tunes we like and can take inspiration from.
We both have massive vinyl collections from all styles of electronic music from the last 10 years that we can dip into, but we are also really open to what’s going on around us on the current scene, as there are so many amazing producers out there at the minute. Our current favourites include Franck Roger, Deetron, Hector, Maceo Plex, Fur Coat, Fabio Gianelli, Martinez Brothers, the list could go on and on!
You guys are big into your bold house vocals. Where do you source your vox from? Why are they such a recurring theme across your body of work?
Lots of people ask us this question! We both love vocal tracks as there is so much more feeling in them and they are so easy to connect to, so we knew that would be our main style. Neither of us was keen on using sampled vocals from old tracks, which seems to be happening a lot at the minute, and so we both decided we would rather stick to writing our own original vocals. Luckily, Claire is a Lecturer in Music Technology by day, and the vocalists so far have actually been students of hers! This includes the vocalist on ‘Gone Too Long’, Kieran Fowkes, who is an incredibly talented musician. We are working on more material with him and he is definitely a name to look out for in the future.
The usual process is that we write the vocals ourselves around a rough backing track, source a vocalist and teach them the vocal part. We then record and produce it, reworking the backing track to suit the vocal. We have also started working on some new material featuring vocals from one of us, we will let you guess which one for now…
Tell us about being signed to Crosstown Rebels. How did that feel? What exactly do they do for you?
This was a bit of a shock to us to be honest, as we obviously had targets for our material but we didn’t think we would reach such a big label so quickly. The opportunity actually came about as a result of a DJ in Mexico playing ‘Gone Too Long’ as the last track of his set before Damian Lazarus took over (we still don’t know who this was so we can thank him)! Damian loved it and asked who it was by, and then he got in touch with us. The day the message popped up in our inbox was a very happy one!
At the moment we have a single coming out on Crosstown in the next few weeks, with a remix from a VERY big artist (can’t say who yet though!) featuring vocals from Kieran Fowkes again.
The label have also just obtained the license for ‘Gone Too Long’, so it looks like this will be re-released with remixes later this year, which is really cool, as we are sure the track still has further to go yet with the right exposure! In the meantime we are working exclusively on material for Damian, with the hope of developing an artist album on Crosstown Rebels in the near future. Exciting times!!
What are the main things you would like people to take away from listening to your records?
We are definitely about the feeling in our music. We just want people to feel emotion from listening to our tracks and to connect and be moved by them.
You are signed to The Underground Agency, how has that helped you in your career so far?
This has definitely been a key factor in our success so far, especially in terms of the amount and level of gigs we have been lucky enough to play. Kal at The Underground took a chance on us when we were still unknown and we started a trial with the agency before the “Gone Too Long EP” had even been released, so we are very grateful for this. Luckily that track did pretty well (haha!) so we are now fully signed to The Underground alongside amazing artists like Finnebassen and Dale Howard. Kal has secured us some awesome gigs so far including international performances in Germany, Holland and Denmark and our upcoming tour schedule seems to be getting busier which is great!
What are the main goals for 2013? What’s next on the horizon?
Obviously our main focus at the moment is our material for Crosstown Rebels, as we are really hoping that we can put together an album for them this year, so that is the main studio focus at the minute. It’s great to be able to take our time and really develop material that we love and that’s filled with feeling and emotion.
We are also developing the ‘live’ aspect of our performances and are working with Traktor, Ableton and Maschine, plus live vocals, to get really creative when performing our own material and this is something we hope to start showcasing later this year.
Amazing. Good luck with all your future plans and thanks for taking the time to talk to us!
We would just like to say a massive thank you to everyone that has supported us so far, we really do appreciate it so much! And thanks to MEOKO for chatting to us 🙂
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