In almost a decade of activity, producer, DJ, and co-founder of one of the UK’s most forward-thinking imprints in recent years Pangaea, real name Kevin McAuley, has established an impeccable body of work which symbolises the progression that many other dubstep producers, labels, and clubbers have gone on since 2006.
Over the course of numerous 12”s and remixes he has steadily shifted and blurred the lines between dubstep, jungle, grime, and in more recent years also have taken these elements and laid them onto other club territories, primarily techno, where he crumbles the ability of classifying his tracks to a specific genre and creates a complex sound palette of club grooves.
It seems as if Hessle Audio’s evolution as a label goes hand in hand with Pangaea’s growth as an artist, and as though the both share the same distinct, bold, yet un-expectable identity. However, in order to break away from the strong link between him and the label and enabling himself more creative freedom McAuley launched Hadal in 2013 as a platform to self-release his own productions.
Now, McAuley is marking his Hessle return with the release of his first awaited long-player. “In Drum Play“ offers 10 tracks which travel through a range of electronic music influences and aims to deliver a work to fit both listeners and DJs’ needs. We caught up with Pangaea via email to ask a few questions about his album writing process and his affiliation with Hessle Audio.
Interviewed by Ben Bar-Or
"My aim was to try and achieve both something to be listened to in one go and something DJs could cherry pick from."
Can you tell us about the album writing process? Where and how was it put together? How long did you work on it and if you got any help or inspiration from others?
I wrote it in my home studio after buying a mixing desk and a few bits of outboard gear at the start of last year – before that I was using a few bits of borrowed equipment hooked up through Ableton to produce my Hadal EPs.
I wanted a reason to invest in this setup, and so I decided I wanted to write an album. It felt like the right time to do it, and so over eight or nine months last year it came together. Some tracks took a lot longer to finish than others, and some tracks didn’t make it on there.
Is the album a collection of tracks or a defined body of music, to be listened to at once?
Yeah sure, it’s made to be listened to as a whole and the CD and digital version is programmed that way. But there is a lot of standalone club music on there too, and the vinyl version is cut for DJs in mind.
My aim was to try and achieve both something to be listened to in one go and something which DJs could cherry pick from. As I say there was more music written for it and I imagined it would be longer than 10 tracks, but when programming the album it felt stronger to keep it to this selection.
"It's been a few years since I put out something on Hessle, I wanted a bit of time away from it to cultivate what I do 100% on my own terms."
You said before that you take the album format very seriously, which was one of the reasons you didn’t turn ‘Release’ into one and preferred to frame it as a ‘double EP’. What has changed since then?
I guess a combination of taking the format less seriously and feeling more confident in my production abilities. Not to say an album isn’t ‘serious’ but I’ve mellowed out a bit about what I expected from myself.
Sonically speaking, how does this album compare to previous releases?
Perhaps some of the sounds are a bit brighter, like the lead synth on ‘Skips Desk’ is a bit different for me. So it’s a bit less murky in places and some of the tracks are a bit more ‘direct’. But it still sounds like me though I think.
"Perhaps some of the sounds are a bit brighter, like the lead synth on 'Skips Dest' is a bit different for me. But it still sounds like me though I think."
I think all in all it’s fair to say you put a lot of emphasis on rhythms in your productions. Is that somehow communicating with the artwork and album title?
Yeah exactly. The title ‘In Drum Play’ was just a little phrase that came into my head a few months into making it, and I found it hard to shake off as an album title. So when it came to the artwork I wanted something quite literal and bright that fitted with it.
Since ‘Release’ your singles have been self-released on your own imprint Hadal. Why did you decide to release ‘In Drum Play’ via Hessle as opposed to your own imprint?
It’s been a few years since I put out something on Hessle, I wanted a bit of time away from it to cultivate what I do 100% on my own terms. But Hessle is still at the core of what I do, and there was no question of doing this album anywhere else.
Next year Hessle Audio will mark 10 years since debuting – any celebration planned for the occasion?
We’ll be doing some things for sure, but we’re still working it out and not ready to say anything just yet!
What music have you been listening to lately? Or what were the last three records your were itching to get hold of?
I’m still listening to a bit of everything really. Recently I’ve listened to some old 90s Essential Mixes from Daft Punk and Massive Attack. There seem to be a good amount of re-issues too which I find is a great way to discover older music. I recently enjoyed ‘Inventions For Electric Guitar’ by Manuel Göttsching – someone I hadn’t heard of before until I saw it in at Hardwax.
Other than dance music I’ve played ‘Blond’ by Frank Ocean a couple of times, and ‘Prima Donna’ by Vince Staples. ‘Holding Hands With Jamie’ by Girl Band I’m really glad I found, it’s super good new guitar music and I don’t come across much of that these days – probably because I’m not tuned into those scenes. My most played album this year though is “Konnichiwa” by Skepta, it’s super good and one of those records I never skip through.
In Drum Play is out now on Hessle Audio, order a copy from Bandcamp.
1. Mutual Exchange
2. Rotor Soap
3. Bulb In Zinc
4. More Is More To Burn
5. Scaled Wing
6. One By One
7. Lofty Can
8. Send It In
9. Skips Desk