It feels like Sim Hutchins has come out of nowhere, and in a relatively short space of time has made some lasting ripples in the London art house music crossover scene. Signing with established indie imprint NO PAIN IN POP earlier this year he’s already released his debut album, featured on their renowned Bedroom Club compilations, had an entry accepted in the London Short Film Festival and remixed label-pal Throwing Shade.
Zeroes and Ones took some time to catch up with the rural Essex cross-media artists to ask some of the questions that have arisen off the back of listening to his acclaimed debut (and bizarrely named) I Enjoy to Sweep a Room. Here’s what went down.
Zeros and Ones: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Sim, formalities out the way first, for those who don’t know, can you introduce yourself a little?
Sim Hutchins: I’m a audio-visual artist from the UK. I have released music on London’s No Pain In Pop and Berlin’s Ecology Tapes. I play a monthly show on London’s Radar radio (with Sully & Klaar). You can see my visual work on Youtube, and at LSFF’s ‘Experiments: Leftfield and Luscious’ on January 10th.
ZO: I Enjoy to Sweep a Room has been making waves since its release. Is it a concept album and what’s it all about?
SH: It’s less a concept album, more an addressing of the cause and effect of self destruction, and the implications of that lifestyle. It follows an evolution into post-nihilism, insofar that there are parts that set to resolve to let go of introversion, of letting go of contemptuous feelings with regards to life, of realizing that by destroying yourself, the centre of the universe (you) will cease to exist. It’s less ‘nothing matters’ more ‘what does it matter?’.
ZO: I personally groan at the task of naming tracks, but it seems like you’ve taken quite a bit of pride in it. Did the track titles and themes come first or are they named retrospectively?
SH: I think a mixture, but each title is designed to convey a certain image or message to the listener. I think track titles are an overlooked medium of expression, they’re a way to provide imagery in a sense. I notice I get more plays on Soundcloud with the more out-there ones, so there must be something to it that piques people’s interest.
ZO: Your music has been labelled IDM, lo-fi, ambient and even post grime by various journalists and distribution sites. Were you consciously working within an idiom or did the music come and this is how it’s been classified with hindsight, and does the term IDM make you wretch?
SH: LOL. I’m not sure why anyone gave me the IDM tag, people just need to label stuff for ease I guess. I’d rather IDM than EDM. I literally have no idea what’s gonna come out when I write, sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised, at other times: horrified.
ZO: We’ve spoken before in some detail before about your music making process, but for the purpose of the readers,how do you go about making music? Is there a creative spark that ignites the process, or is endless hours or re-sampling and processing things until you get a breakthrough?
SH: Tough question as there’s no straight answer I can give here, but if we’re talking about the tracks on the LP a lot were iterations of previous ideas I had laid out before and the rest were jams I had recorded and turned into full songs.
A lot of the time I’m working with MIDI in Ableton with no F at all, and when I think the track is as fully formed as it can get I’ll bounce everything to audio and start running separate channels through crappy outboard stuff, then delete the old project files. A lot of heavy re-processing comes at this point, which can change the nature and flow of the track considerably.
M.E.S.H. summed up his workflow in an RA interview, describing it as the “raster not vector” method, and I feel this applies to my practice. It can definitely prevent the endless tinkering that MIDI allows whilst providing huge scope for experimentation thereafter.
ZO: I remember hearing your side of Ecology Tapes Vol. 1 (a split cassette tape label run by Knives co-founder Joe Shakespeare) and being blown away by it, can you tell us a little about how you went about putting it together and the thinking behind it?
SH: The tracks were collated from the more experimental music I was writing alongside the I Enjoy To Sweep A Room tracks (which are more club-focussed in places). Wasp Cell actually features on both so they’re intrinsically linked. There really isn’t a pigeonhole style I work in, but it was nice to draw a line here and say the more out-there music is on this one, and that it’s more of an ambient excursion throughout.
ZO: On the subject of Wasp Cell, this is a particular favourite of mine. Can you tell me a little about it and the production of this?
SH: Really hard to remember here precisely as originally the pad sounds that fill the stereo space were reprocessed from an older tune, however I loaded variations of these into Ableton’s Sampler and set a random LFO to change which ones were played, then duplicated the channel and panned L & R. The crispness on them came from an old Studio V3 tube amp you gave me Ali, cheers blud. There’s more CZ synth in there, and stacked EHX Cathedral Pedal/Memory Man delays all over the place all sidechained to stuff. Conceptually I wanted to create something that represented a weird drug-induced mind state approaching an event horizon of sorts (or something).
ZO: Another one which really caught my eye was Brick through church window. How did you go about this one?
SH: This was sampled from a massively pitched down version of another song called Bed Sheets For Curtains. It was pretty much created by accident when I moved a file into Soundforge at the wrong bitrate.
Here I’m giving it away exclusively on Zeros & Ones.