Hello Ethyl or should I say Tim, Timothy Hopgood to be precise, shouldn't you be making dubstep with a name like that or are you not really that posh?
I'm pretty fucking posh. I don't wee in the shower or balk at offal and I've done the home counties - Hackney migration so maybe I should fulfill my dubstep calling. Alas, not yet.
It's very Dickensian, I like it. Ethyl also is a fantastic alias, can you tell us the origin of that pseudonym?
I know I've divulged this tale to you before but I don't think it's fit for writing. The truncated version is; a smaller, younger version of me, my Nan's bingo hall and a friend of hers that played music after the event. It's not a sexy story (thank god), it's a mundane one.
That's delightful, are old people important? why?
Odours of wee and military ramblings aside, old people are important. Some of the most senile, decrepit has-beens are responsible for important labels on the scene. Like Vitalik.
Besides your Nan's mates can you tell us some more of your musical influences?
I like all sorts. I started on garage around 98 when I got my first set of turntables. Mainly UK stuff, a lot of dross and guff but also some real gems which I still refer to to this day. I've had all sorts of musical phases but I think there's always been a common thread running through it all and I'm not too hubristic to get into something that I previously wasn't feeling. Thanks to my flat mate I've been feeling some post-punk/industrial bands. Factory Floor in particular have really encapsulated a sound which, for me, is so pure and real. For those of you that haven't heard of them, they're a London based three piece (synth, drums (and machines) and guitar/vocals) and they basically take a theme and just take it as far as it can possibly go. It's not about noodling and covering things up with layers, every part is a star. There's a lot of Throbbing Gristle and techno in their sound and I can easily make comparisons between what they do and artists like Omar-S, who is perhaps musically 'closer to home' for me.
Is it fair to say you are a bit of a purist?
I looked it up and the dictionary bangs on about adhering to traditional rules and/or structures. I don't think so - I like pushing things forward, I'm no stuck in the mud but I do have an appreciation for where it all came from yes. I'm not a fan of simply rehashing movements in the past. It's happened with a few bandwagons recently where nothing significant has been added to what was done the first time around. If anything it's a diluted simplified version and more often than not, misses the point for me.
You have had some Beatport top 10 hits with your production partners Huxley and Flori, is purist house music allowed there?
Number ones baby! No I don't associate those top tens with purist house music. I think when we got those, it was at a transitional time for Beatport, where it wasn't as dominated by the same handful of labels. I've just had a flick through the top ten 'deep house' for instance and not one of the tracks in there is what I'd call deep house. Music and the politics/demarcations that go with it are pliant things so maybe when the majority of people associate a certain sound with a certain tag, that's what it becomes. But then you need a new label for what the other guys were doing. It's too complicated and rife with bullshit so it doesn't really bear thinking about it. Like the recent whinges about the RA top 100s. It is what it is, and there's always something out there for everyone. I know if what I'm doing became as big as the guys in the top 10 of that list, I wouldn't be without serious critics.
Saying that my stuff has always shifted more on the vinyl side of things. I'm not militant about vinyl. I prefer it but I also want as many people to hear my music as possible and I know vinyl prices a lot of enthusiastic listeners out of the equation.
You currently reside on the secret agency roster, Giles & James have been two of the leading protagonists in London's house story over the years, is their ideology one you subscribe to and why?
It's difficult not to. The pair of them have a real antecedence to what they do and that's part of why they've been at the top for so long. There are demigods on the agency, artists who really deserve the legend status as well as some upstarts (like myself). And recently the agency has expanded with two more rosters with a more eclectic flavor. This reflects James' passion for new music and it's certainly a move that excites me. Some artists that I have been really digging for at least a year, like Flako, who makes this wonky hip-hop hybrid are included and John Heckle, whose productions I just can't get enough of.
How did you meet…. did you stalk them?
Yeah a bit. I left a CV in a faux parking ticket wallet under the windscreen wiper of one of James' Bentleys. Luckily his driver didn't find it first and James appreciated my tenacity. I also, persuaded the manager of Giles' favourite restaurant to play my music in the toilets along with a subliminal morse code interpretation of my phone number. You've got to get your head above the parapet in this day and age.
House still seems to be the predominant force in electronic music at the moment, trends as we know are always transient, how would you like to see things progress from here?
It feels like an exciting time at the moment. A lot of the post garage/dubstep lot are looking towards 4x4 music and adding a lot to the mix. I don't know what's coming but I'm eager to find out.
Are you exclusively a house music producer?
Not at all. I'm making more techno at the moment and my DJ sets are reflecting that. I've also done a few (hopefully) undefinable tracks recently which, if I find the right home for them, might see the light of day. A couple of other projects I've been working on with [actual] musicians probably shouldn't be called house either.
You have a degree in music, what does that qualify you to do?
Wax lyrical about how much of a waste of time the course was. I can put down a perfect binaural recording of your flatulence too. Not just yours actually, any Irishman's.
What is the dream?
A verbose symposium of grammatical exactness and aural verisimilitude.
Please give us some musical inspiration….
A track to elevate the soul...
Hieroglyphic Being - The Visitation [Mathematics]
A track to bend the mind...
In Sync - Storm [Irdial Discs]
A track to move your feet...
Joy O & Boddika - Swims [Swamp]
A track for a summers day...
John Beltran - Placid Angles [Groovia]
A track for the end of the world...
Kinoeye - Mean Old World [WT Records]
Ethyl's remix of Hugo Barrit out now on Vitalik Recordings, listen here