For the past seven years since the drop of his debut 12″ on Immerse Records, Bristol-via-London based producer Jake Martin aka Hodge has been riding high on the success of his successive releases for Punch Drunk, Hotline Recordings, Hemlock, Clone and Berceuse Heroique, through which his latest EP ‘Exogenesis‘ came out, after a joint instalment on Livity Sound with Laurel Halo.
Although it’s via chiselled blends of bass and techno that he made a name for himself, this time it’s with a very special all-ambient mix that Hodge steps up in our podcast series. Recorded live a few months ago at Elevator in Shanghai, it’s a headlong experience that awaits, lulling you into a world of beatless serenity and vaporous captivation. Gaze long into the abyss, it’ll gaze back into you.
Interview by Baptiste Girou
"My Dads always been really into music and I listened to a lot of stuff via him"
Hey Jake, thanks for providing us with this very special all-ambient mix – not the kind of set you’ve been known for, but what a goodun. Can you tell us more about it? When and how was it recorded?
I played in Shanghai a few months back at this club called Elevator. It’s the third time I’ve played in the club and the second time this year. The last time I played I went to an evening the day after my gig where the owner Sam ran a “space out” night.
It was really great, Sam did a lovely speech before the show and dimmed the lights right down, put mats and blankets on the floor and everyone that came down was encouraged to relax, not look at their phones, fall asleep and generally switch off and absorb the music.
So this time when I was going back I asked if I could play an ambient set on the Sunday at one of these space out events and this is the recording from that. That Saturday night was amazing, the club was rammed and the vibe was great. It was so nice to revisit the space on the Sunday and do pretty much the opposite of the night before.
How was it to play a full ambient set in China? How did the crowd react?
Yeah really well, lots of people were lying down and relaxing, others meditating, everyone was super positive about it after the set. Not one person spoke during the music and for me it was really relaxing I ended up feeling very focused, it was kinda tense.
Normally when I’m in the DJ booth it’s such a hectic, noisy and frenetic experience. This was the exact polar opposite and I loved it. I wanna do this exact thing more!
Club and festival-wise, where did you most enjoy playing over the years? Any ideal spot that may not already be on everyone’s map perhaps?
To start with the one I enjoy most is an obvious one I’m a resident at Mothers Finest in Berlin, and play at Griessmuehle a few times a year for that – the next one is New Year’s Eve and I really love those shows. I’m probably the most comfortable behind the decks there.
Less obvious, in Europe I just played in Paris at La Station which was great. Loved the vibe there, felt like I was in the film Hackers or something.
In Asia I had an amazing time playing at Mihn in Hong Kong, a new club that’s just opened. Killer sound system, lovely people and they didn’t have much space for a bar so they decided to do bespoke drinks in vending machines which seemed to work really well!
Your fourth EP for Berceuse Heroique has just dropped. How did you and Giz get in touch in the first place?
Giz emailed me a long time ago, when I’d just done my first Punch Drunk 12-inch and when Berceuse Heroique was also relatively young, I think it was 2014? I hadn’t met him but he was super nice in the email and I loved that Beneath track he’d just released on the label, plus it was alongside an old Horsepower tune, which is an absolute banger – so I was really excited to hear from him.
After that we’ve kept working together as he’s really great at getting 12-inches out of me. Giz constantly helps me stay focused and really helps shape up the records, each time coming up with an aesthetic or a concept, plus the artwork, which he has either done himself or organised has been incredible every single time.
"Normally when I’m in the DJ booth it’s such a hectic, noisy and frenetic experience. This was the exact polar opposite and I loved it."
You also just released a very special collaborative EP alongside Laurel Halo on Livity Sound. Tell us more about this record and artistic encounter? How did it all happen?
I’ve been friends with Laurel Halo for a few years and we are always hanging out whenever I am in Berlin anyway, so we just decided to write some music. The 12-inch is a result of a couple of years of hanging out and making music.
We got the majority done when I stayed in Berlin for 6 weeks last summer, otherwise we have only really worked on it when I was over there for a show. It was great to work in a way with no time restraints or pressure like that and I’m really happy with the outcome.
Do you ever contemplate the idea of putting together an album someday?
Yeah, I contemplate it a lot, constantly to be honest – it is pretty intimidating though.
What are the next months holding for you record and gig-wise?
So I’m ending the year with the BH 12-inch, plus the 12-inch with Laurel Halo on Livity Sound you mentioned earlier and one track on Needs with all profits going to the mental health charity Mind alongside Red Axes and DJ Normal 4.
Gig wise I’m in Bristol for Livity Sound on the 6th January, 14th In Bratislava for the first time, 28th London with Mosca in Brixton and NYE I’m in Berlin for Mothers Finest.
Let’s rewind a bit now, what first brought you into the realm of electronic music? Do you recall a life-changing moment – be it a gig or record – that made you think « that’s it, that’s what I want to do »?
My Dads always been really into music and I listened to a lot of stuff via him. He always had DJ Shadow’s “Entroducing” on, so I got really into that, then from that into Boards of Canada and Aphex twin at college.
Then in terms of going out and dance music I heard a lot of house music growing up at a really young age at roller disco and was hearing and loving uk garage and drum n bass every weekend I went out in Kent from like 15-18 Then when I moved to Bristol it all kinda clicked into place, the Bristol music scene really resonated with me.
Do you remember the first piece of gear you bought?
There’s usually a gap between the moment one starts experimenting with software/hardware and the moment he/she feels confident enough to send labels a demo. How long did it take you?
I was making music for fun with friends for a while before, a few years, and had genuinely never considered releasing stuff. I didn’t have a clue how the industry worked or have any intention of having some sort of career. It was meeting people like Adam that ran Immerse, chris Farrell from Idle Hands and Ash Donga from Well Rounded they kinda introduced me to everything I know now.
What advice would you give to the young producers who may be reading us and wonder what’s a good way to introduce themselves into the music industry?
Meet people, I’d actually most like to say start your own thing with a good group of friends as it’s always exciting to see that. That’s how Hessle Audio started, same as Livity Sound and Timedance too – I mean look at any label that’s doing what you like… it probably started like that!
What’s the last record store you visited and what did you bag there?
Idle hands and the Shackleton LP ( I was super slow on picking it up )
What makes you happy?
Reading books in the bath
What pisses you off?
What will you be up to in this end of the year?
Partying in Berlin.
Hodge ‘Exogenesis’ EP is out now or Berceuse Heroique, order a copy from Honest Jon’s. Hodge & Laurel Halo’s “Tru / Opal / The Light Within You” is out now via Livity Sound. Order a copy via Bandcamp.
Featured artwork by Will SweeneyHodgeBerceuse HeroiqueLivity SoundAmbient