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Interview: Cyril Hahn

In just under two years, Cyril Hahn has remixed some of the world’s biggest names in music, gained a following of loyal fans and signed to one of the most forward- thinking record labels in the industry, PMR. He is now set to release his double a-side ‘Perfect Form (featuring Shy Girls)/Raw Cut’ on October 7th, and play all across Europe throughout this year’s festival season. We manage to catch up with the man himself, and here’s what happened.

PlanetNotion: Hey Cyril, how are you?
Cyril Hahn: Good, good. Yeah, I’m back in Vancouver for a bit which is really nice. I feel like I’ve been gone more than I’ve been home, so it’s good to recharge for a bit, and see my friends and stuff.

PN: That’s good. We interviewed you back in February ahead of your European tour, so how has everything been since then, and how was the tour?
CH: Yeah, it’s been crazy still, and the first tour went really well. I had no clue what to expect, but it was insane. So, yeah, I went back to Europe in June and July again. Basically, I’ve just been playing a lot and trying to produce whenever I have some time in Vancouver. It’s been a good year for sure.

PN: Sounds brilliant – so going all the way back to the beginning, when did you start putting your remixes out, and which one was your first?
CH: Um, that started last year. The first I put out was in April 2012, and that was the Mariah one. And the second was the Destiny’s Child one in June last year, I think.

PN: And with the Destiny’s Child one, it was ‘Say My Name’, right?
CH: Yeah, yeah.

PN: Did you ever think it was going to be such a big risk to remix such a well-known song?
CH: No, because I mean I didn’t think that many people would be that exposed to it. So for me, I didn’t think consequentially at all. I just did it and threw it on SoundCloud, and didn’t really worry about it at all [laughs].

PN: Did you ever imagine that it’d get so big?
CH: No, absolutely not [laughs]. It was just a hobby at the time, you know; I was in school. I did a remix video every two or three months, and I was new to producing electronic music. So those first two remixes were just projects for me, like learning as I worked on a song. So each song took me two or three months, because I was still learning different techniques and different programs, so it’s kind of funny how they were more like learning tools for me, than to turn into something people really enjoyed.

PN: So when you’re remixing, how come you chose to pitch down Beyoncé’s and Mariah’s vocals, but not Jessie Ware’s or HAIM’s?
CH: Right, right – I just think it depends on the song, the vibe, and the vocals, you know? Sometimes it just sounds really good when you pitch down the vocals, and sometimes it sounds funny. So it really depends, but there’s no real formula. Sometimes I mess with the vocals, sometimes I don’t; it just depends.

PN: And moving forward to this year, how does it feel to be signed to PMR records?
CH: That was unbelievable when they reached out, I couldn’t believe it. There were so many acts on there that I really looked up to, and that I listened to also. So it was crazy because I did a remix for them, on the Jessie Ware track. Then after, they started showing interest and I was just like ‘oh, man’ [laughs].

PN: Is it strange to be on a label with someone you actually remixed?
CH: No, not at all. I’d love to work with Jessie again, for one of my tracks or something. That’d be really fun.

PN: Was it exciting to move away from remixing, and begin to create your originals?
CH: Yeah, definitely. I think a lot of the reasons why I did so many remixes at first was just because that’s what I had at hand, you know, acapellas. But it’s definitely nicer when you have the opportunity to work with a completely new and fresh sample. For original tracks it’s definitely different, but yeah it’s great, I really enjoy it.

PN: What’s the difference between producing vocalised tracks, like ‘Perfect Form’, or instrumentals like ‘Raw Cut’?
CH: Um, it’s hard to say; I never really plan on it. Sometimes I just start with an acapella, track and I build the song around it. I start with a line that I really like, and build more instruments around it and then I’ll add vocals at the end, or sometimes I don’t.

PN: How did your collaboration with Shy Girls come about?
CH: It was actually fairly simple, I just heard his songs on SoundCloud, and I really fell in love with his music, and his voice. I was like ‘man, if I get a chance to work with him, that’d be such a good match’. So me, my label and my management reached out to him, and pretty much the next day, he said he’d be down to try something. So we started going back and forth via email, and he sent me this perfect a cappella, and I just knew it was going to be something that I would want to work with. We started building a song around it, and yeah that’s pretty much how it came about. We finally got to meet in person two weeks ago, which was actually really nice.

PN: So is there an EP or an album on the horizon then?
CH: Yeah, on the horizon for sure I’d say. Probably an EP is more logical at the moment, just from how many shows I play. That’s more realistic. So, I’d say an EP is definitely gonna happen, but it’s really hard to say when. My single’s coming out in October, so it might be a while after that for sure, but I’m really excited to have time to produce again.

PN: I hear you’re partial to a bit of folk music, so will there be any influence of this on any forthcoming work?
CH: No, I don’t think so. It’s hard to combine those two; I think it’s something I used to listen to a lot, but not so much in the last couple of years. I mean, who knows, but I don’t think it’s going to be part of my music at the moment [laughs].

PN: Fair play. So over the next couple of months, your tour is taking you from the Isle of Wight to Croatia, are you enjoying being part of the festival season?
CH: Yeah for sure. It’s funny because, to be honest, I never really liked festivals as a concert-goer myself, I always found there’s too much good music that it’s almost like you can’t take it all in. So I always preferred club shows myself, where you know there’s gonna be this one band, act or producer that you really like and you sort of give that your fullest attention: I enjoy it more that way. So when I first got booked for festivals, I was like, ‘oh, that’s gonna be interesting’, because I don’t really like to go to festivals myself. I mean I used to when I was younger, but I think the last one was when I was 18 or so. But they actually turn out to be a lot of fun; so I definitely enjoy playing at them now.

PN: After festival season, what are the plans for Cyril Hahn in the future?
CH: I’m back in September for festivals, and I think I’ll do some club shows too in Europe. And then right after that in September, I start my North American tour with Ryan Hemsworth, which I’m really excited for. So that’ll last until maybe November or so, and then I’m back in UK for the Annie Mac tour, which should be good. Then in December, I have more downtime again, just to be able to work on stuff at home. So yeah I’m really looking forward to the fall.

‘Perfect Form (featuring Shy Girls) / Raw Cut’ is released on 7th October, and No Artificial Colours have recently remixed ‘Perfect Form’. Check it out below.

Keep up to date with Cyril Hahn on Twitter | Facebook | SoundCloud

Interview by Ben Lifton

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