Recently I spoke with Alataj about my time as a sound engineer at Temple Lane & Grouse Lodge studios, my early influences, life in Berlin & my debut album ‘Embers’ on Rekids. Read the original interview (Portuguese) HERE
Hi Hybrasil, how are you? Thank you for having us! Your stage name, despite having the word “Brazil” in it, is probably a reference to Hy-Brasil, a legendary ghost island in Ireland, are we correct? Tell us a little more about this choice.
Yes that is correct, Hy Brasil is a ghost island that appeared on maps from 1325 to the 1800’s. According to Irish mythology it was clouded in mist, except for one day every 7 years where it was visible but not reachable. A Scottish sea captain by the name of John Nesbit claimed to have visited the island in 1674, where he said he met an old magician who lived in a castle on his own. There is a lot of mythology surrounding the island, some believing it was the home of celtic gods, others believed it was inhabited by monks who created an advanced civilization there. Others believe it was an Irish Atlantis.
Hybrasil always spoke to me on some level, its hard to explain. I never settled on an alias and I always worked under my real name until I learned of the island, its origins and the myths surrounding it. It was a eureka moment. I first began writing music as Hybrasil in 2013 but I didn’t release anything until 2016.
In your bio, you report that you grew up in Dublin, the city where you started your involvement with music, especially as a promoter and, which caught our attention, a radio host. What was this program like and what influence did it have over the course of your career?
Originally I grew up in Wexford and moved to Dublin when I was twelve. My first encounter with electronic music was through Pirate Radio, that lead me to buying turntables and records before I ever set foot in a club.
When I graduated from college I started my own radio show that was inspired by Jeff Mills (The Wizard) shows on WJLB Detroit. It was a late night three turntable mix show. I did that for 12 years, firstly on an Irish language station and then later on the national broadcaster RTE.
Radio for me was hugely important. It kept me searching for new music every week and it gave me an outlet as a DJ. As time progressed, it would also influence the music I was creating and I would often go straight from my radio show to my studio where I would work on new ideas.
The first club nights I promoted were spin offs from my radio show. I would book DJs I was supporting on air, people like Jeff Mills, Radio Slave, Cari Lekebusch, Alan Fitzpatrick, Joseph Capriati, The Advent. I would also write music for each of these shows and perform those tracks live. That is where my journey as a live artist began.
Radio was a huge part of my development as an artist. There was a feedback loop from the music I was performing on my show to what I was creating in my studio to the parties I was promoting.
Still over your hometown, Dublin has a very solid and interesting electronic scene since a long time. Is there something that you lived in the past, in your first contacts with this culture, that you miss today?
This isn’t really unique to Dublin, but I miss the record store culture back when every DJ used to by records. Visiting a record shop every weekend, trying to get the latest releases, discovering new labels, meeting other DJs. It was a really cool time. I also miss pirate radio, I know there is internet radio now which is also cool, but I miss that regional DIY anti-establishment approach.
You are also highly respected for your resume as a sound engineer as you worked at Temple Lane and Grouse Lodge Studios, two giants in the world market. Can you tell us one of the many teachings this experience has brought you that you carry in your mind to this day?
I truly loved sound engineering and working with bands. This is when I truly got into the art and science of recording and mixing audio. I was fortunate to have worked with some incredibly talented artists. I learnedabout arrangement, composition and music on a much deeper level by working with artists from different backgrounds such as World Music, Folk, Blues and Prog Rock.
The things I learned at those studios stand to me every time I step into a studio. It gave me confidence not only in my own ability as an engineer but also in working with artists from different backgrounds. It was an incredibly inspiring time and an important part of my development as an artist.
(Photo: Hybrasil sound engineering at Temple Lane – 2010)
Berlin is undoubtedly an inexhaustible cultural center, with a variety of incredible musical styles and movements. What was the reason you moved? Has the city influenced you musically in any way?
I moved to Berlin to focus on my studio and engineering work and a lot of factors have influenced me musically since. I’ve been working with Radio Slave and SRVD as a studio technician. There is an amazing vinyl culture here and there are a lot of really good record shops. I try to get to Hardwax at least every 2 weeks.
I’ve found some really interesting second hand shops that sell synths, samplers and drum machines. I like going to Schneidersladen to check out the latest modules and generally learn more about the modular world. Going to Superbooth this year was truly mind blowing. All of my experiences here have influenced my creative process.
You just released your debut album, Embers, on the Rekids label, with 8 techno tracks that seemed very hypnotic to us. What was your intention when creating this project? What feedback have you received from the dance floor and artists?
Embers is inspired by my time living in Berlin and the people I have met here. I don’t think it would be what it is otherwise. I wanted to capture that experience in the music I was writing. I also wanted to draw on early Detroit Minimal influences and deliver my own interpretation of that.
When I wrote ‘Hathor’ which is the opening track on the album, Radio Slave played it the week after at Panorama Bar. I followed that up with more and more music which Radio Slave was testing out in his DJ sets. This process continued for 3 months which lead to the creation of the album.
Dave Clarke featured 5 of the 8 tracks on his radio show White Noise. It’s gotten support from DJs such as Laurent Garnier, Ryan Elliot, Len Faki, Alan Fitzpatrick, The Martinez Brothers, Monika Kruse, ANNA, Rolando, Marcel Fengler.
Collaborating with Rekids on this project has been incredible, I’m really grateful for the support I’ve received overall.
Finally, a personal question What is music for you?
A communication of ideas through rhythm and frequency.