INTERVIEW: HECTOR PLIMMER

CDR London regular Hector Plimmer has been making waves over the last few months. Following up an appearance on the most recent Gilles Peterson Brownswood Bubblers compilation, Hector was fortunate enough to be the selected finalist for the PRS Steve Reid InNOVAtion Award. Mark Stangroom caught up with the very humble Mr Plimmer to talk about the past year of music and projects for him, and was lovely enough to share his EXCLUSIVE remix with us…

Can you tell us about your involvement with the Steve Reid Foundation award?

I found out I’d won at the start of this year, basically I get funding and mentorship from the Steve Reid trustees. I met up with Emily from Brownswood and spoke about ways to move forward, as well as some ins and outs of releasing music. It was great to see the Brownswood office. I also met the trustees in a meeting at the PRS offices. I was sat at the table with Fourtet, Floating Points and various other amazing artists. It was so weird sat with all these people and discussing with them what I wanted to do with my funding. 

So what are you going to do with the funding?

I’m working collaboratively on an immersive audio-visual piece with a film maker called Luke Clayton-Thompson. So far we have a theme based on the sun, the moon and the earth. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’m really interested in how sound influences visuals, and how visuals influence sound. I come from a graphic design background, so these are my two passions. Hopefully it’ll be like a conversation between the sound and visuals, which should be ready by the Summer if all goes according to plan. I’m not sure yet if it’ll be a screening or a live performance.

Sounds great. What stage are you at in the process for this project?

I’ve just started working on the music. I’m going to make half the music, and then Luke’s going to make half the visuals, so we’ll be working separately at first, although in communication, and then we’ll work more closely together.  

What was some of the advice from the Steve Reid mentors?

They asked about what project we wanted to work on, and one of the things I wanted to know from them was how I should present myself as an artist. Fourtet’s advice was that if the music is good and you’re getting it into the right hands then don’t worry too much about writing bios, that sort of thing will come. It was very reassuring to hear because I don’t really like talking about myself! Basically he advised me to just get on with the music, I was a bit worried about that because my music can be a bit weird. His advice was to embrace the weirdness! I’ve always enjoyed trying out weird stuff, sometimes I’ll be working with other artists and they’ll give me some very funny looks with my stranger ideas! 

Who are some of the other artists you have worked with in the past?

I’ve been working for some time with my good friend Miles Wulu, we do a thing called Monster Playground and that came about through a shared love of music at college. We were both really into dubstep, going to DMZ and stuff like that. Lots of hiphop too, LA beats stuff. We started collaborating, and it just worked out so we’ve been doing it ever since. We run nights together now and we run the label with some other friends. We’ve just had a free release on Humana Records, with a rapper called Specs’ Spectacle. 

I’m also working with an amazing singer from South London called Alexa Harley, she asked me if I could send her some beats. We went through some stuff and then she mentioned a chord progression and lyrics that she wanted to turn into a full track so we started working on that, and it went really well. It’s been quite easy going, I was nervous at first but it’s working out well. Hopefully we’ll have something out by the end of the year. 

Also I’ve just done a remix for a producer called Supplington who I met through Bambooman, and another for my next door neighbour’s band Maple Emulsion, which you can get an exclusive first listen here:

Can you talk us through your take on remixes?

People send me stems and I just listen through, looking out for things that stand out. I’ll pick out 2 or 3 parts that interest me, pitch up and down, reverse, manipulate, and putting stuff through effects in my SP404. Percussion is a really big part of my sound, I like playing around with rhythms, different layers, hits, that kind of thing. 

I don’t have a set style of how I do things, sometimes I start out playing a melody on a synth, sometimes I’ll sample something from a record, sometimes I’ll use a recording I made on my phone. When I’m out and about I’m always tapping on things and recording it. I’m really interested in how things sound. 

What is your studio set-up like?

I’ve acquired stuff over the years, which all runs through my laptop in Ableton. My baby is a Korg MS 2000 rack synth which is amazing,  it has an arpeggiator, step sequencer, FX unit, vocoder and a virtual patch bay; so that’s in most of my tracks. Then I run most things through my SP 404, using it as an FX unit rather than a sampler. I have a Novation Bass Station, and a Yamaha Portasound PSS-580 bought from Deptford market for a fiver! I also have a Roland Piano Plus 11 which I found in Crystal Palace. They’re weird little bits of kit, but they contribute to my sound. I also do a bit of weird off-key singing at times, and I’ve started playing drums again recently. 

Can you tell us how you got involved with Brownswood?

I’m really honoured and humbled by it. It’s taken me ages to get to a level where I’m comfortable with other people hearing my music. It was down to Kutmah really, whom we met through NTS. I started sending him music and then he sent it to Gilles Peterson, who played it on his show. A while later I saw him out at a show, and I shuffled over to him and thanked him for playing it. He replied back “has no one contacted you about the Bubblers compilation yet?” One thing lead to another from there, and it went out on the latest compilation, as well as being one of his 2014 All Winners. On the day he announced it I was working really hard on my Uni work, and I just couldn’t concentrate for the rest of the day!

Who influences you? 

I jump around quite a lot with what I listen to.  One of my biggest influences when I started making music was Madlib’s “Dill Cosby Suite”; that blew my mind, and Madlib always does. I love Talking Heads, Electric Wire Hustle, Spacek, Conan Mockasin and Fela Kuti. I’m always looking for new stuff for the (NTS) show, I go out of my way to find as much new stuff as possible. There’s lots of people doing good stuff at the moment and I’m always repping South London – Mo Kolours, Jeen Bassa, Henry Wu, Tenderlonious, Reginald Omas Mamode IV and then the guys from The Factory as well- D’vo, Spec Spectacles, Shaun Sky, Dariés Street Soul; Ego Ella May is doing really nice stuff at the moment too. 

It’s not just music that influences me though, colours and textures do too. I did a project based around Delia Derbyshire’s ‘Dreams’ for my design artwork. There’s a section in there where people are talking about the colours and textures that they see in their dreams, which I translated into a visual piece. The translation of sound to visual and vice versa really appeals, so designs or patterns can really inspire me. I did another project where I drew a landscape of 3d shapes and got people to interpret them. I was looking at alternative music notations, interpreting the shapes or textures can be a really interesting exercise. Visually I’m interested in how colours overlap to make new colours, and in a sonic sense it’s the same thing, all the different factors contribute to the overall result. 

Where do you like going out for musical inspiration?

Rye Wax is a good spot, I’ve played there a few times, Canavans for Rhythm Section, and their karaoke on a Sunday, and I do a night in Brixton at The Ritzy called “Crates”.  We’ve also done a few parties at a venue called Brixton East, which is a beautiful spot. I grew up in South London and there’s such a community here within the music scene, I met all the 22a guys here, Rhythm Section is a wicked night, everyone is connected. 

And lastly, what’s your connection with CDR?

I started going down with a few friends and I just love the idea of it. There’s nowhere else I know of that gives you that opportunity to hear your music out and meet people, and find out what they’re doing. Last one I went to was with Shatter Hands, who I’d been chatting to online for a a year so, so it was great to meet him in person. Also, I love the educational side of it with the surgeries and workshops that they organise.

Listen to more of Hector’s music here and be sure to check his show on NTS The 92 Points Show, 1st Wednesday of every month. 

And from the Archives..