Manchester based Tez Hurst & Danny Hevingham started their musical journey over 12 years ago. Graduates of one of the local music schools, they’ve been residents of Sankey’s, high profile producers, and now signed to Steve Lawler’s VIVa label, are pushing their take on the tech house blueprint further than ever before. With support for the house glitterati, 2015 is set to be another big year for the boys, Decoded Magazine thought it about time we had a chat.
Hi guys, glad you could join us. So, tell can you catch us up on about whats been happing this year so far?
Thanks. We’ve definitely hit 2015 running! We’ve had a fair few releases so far on vinyl and digital, and there’s no letting up with the amount of remixes we’ve done. Got 4 more eps already signed off too which is gonna take us through till the end of summer.
You cite the Hacienda as one of the many clubbing influences Manchester has to offer. Tell us about your time there. Who did you see and what effect did it have on you as young men?
Tez: It was Danny who managed to get down to the Hacienda before it shut down.
Danny: Yeah I had just turned 18, it was 1995 and the first track I heard when I went in there was Josh Wink “Higher State Of Consciousness”. The venue was very special and will forever have its place in Manchester’s long history of great music.
You got into producing back in 2002 through a combination of school and home learning. How much has that formal training had in moving forward in your career, and given the time again, would you opt to take the same path?
I think it set us off on our journey. We’ve obviously moved on so much since. It helped us understand the industry and how things work, and then after that, it’s been hundreds of hours in the studio learning our craft. There’s a lot of courses out there these days. I’d say just make sure you know what you want out of it before you join up on anything.
Other cultural icon of the city is Sankey’s, and you were residents there for a while. I recently wrote an article about how a lot of clubs and promoters seem to have abandoned the notion of having a small band of talented DJs to bookend their shows. As working DJs for a number of years, whats your assessment of the current clubbing scene, and what would be your be your list of improvements?
Its hard to say. Firstly being Sankeys residents at the time the venue was voted the No1 club in the world was great. We felt like a massive part of the club back then and we loved every second of playing there. Manchester has changed a lot over the last 5-10 years. The bigger venues hold all the power now. They tie down virtually all the best artists and the politics side of it all is a little frustrating. They don’t even allow some of the local lads to play elsewhere.
Crowds have changed, some seem less educated and more there cause it’s cool to go. Then there’s the ketamine takers who drag themselves through the club like a zombie. We still love it for what it is, but it has changed a lot and will probably, sadly, continue to do so.
March 20th saw you play your hometown at South nightclub. How often do you get to play a local gig, and d’you still get the same buzz as when you were Sankey’s residents?
We love playing back in Manchester. It rarely happens these days for us. We have thrown to very small intimate parties at The Whiskey Jar Basement this year. Well I say we have, the next one being April 2nd to kick off Easter. It’s great for us to play in front of familiar faces and it’s obviously great for us not having to travel to play haha!!
How does your track selection change from gig to gig? Are there places around the country that seem to prefer a particular sound?
We always get down to a gig at least an hour to two hours before we play. We try to gage each crowd on the night. We do tend to carry the bulk of the same stuff with a few exceptions. Things are seeming to work wherever or however we play since we made the switch to System2. Getting really good feedback on the gigs and we do play a huge amount of our own material when we play.
You make mention in your bio of learning to DJ on turntables. Do you think the quality of todays DJs has dropped with the advent of technology, and as you put it ‘proceed to sync your way through a set’? Which aspects d’you think have suffered?
It was so much harder 10+ years ago when all you had was turntables. There’s DJs even now who have played for years that can’t mix on vinyl and don’t actually own one 12″ record. Technology moves on and you can’t really blame people for that. We are proud to still play and use vinyl during our sets.
It’s sets us apart from the majority and there’s nothing wrong with being a little different. The shame is anyone can use CDJs these days. It’s not an expensive hobby anymore. People can rip music, share ups and rock up to a gig with a USB stick. Laptops are ever present these days too. Some of the words best use them though and you can’t argue that when used correctly, they sound brilliant with a more creative spin on it. Look at Loco Dice, Joseph Capriati & Steve Lawler!
Before you were System2, you guys had a career with another alias. Would you like to tell us about that, and what made you decide to change names?
Yeah we were previously H2. We held that name for a good 8-9 years. The time came to change. We wasn’t enjoying what we were doing and where we were at. We were on some great labels under that name….Cecille, Get Physical, PIAS, Nurvous. But the music we were constantly being asked to make we just never played in our sets. Then we was getting booked for nights that wanted the sound we didn’t wanna play. We haven’t enjoyed it ever as much as we do now so it’s worked out great.
Working as a pair of course has its benefits, but do you guys ever fall out? How do you work through your challenging times?
We don’t fall out. We disagree over the odd track when we are playing out and that’s it. We never fall out ever and we speak twice a day every day at least. We are always to busy working together to move ourselves forward, there’s no time to argue haha!
Social media is has now become an intrigue part of an artists promotional dynamic. How have you both embraced the media revolution? And do you find artists like DJ Sneak and the recent outbursts by Felix Da Housecat beneficial to their brand?
I think some things are best left private. We’ve learnt that ourselves. I think some people don’t think before they take to social media to air their issues with society. I suppose some people don’t give a shit, but you’ve gotta be mindful of your fans beliefs and I don’t see a valid reason to put something out there that compromises that. Social media is a massive part of an artists persona these days. Luckily under VIVa management they help us control that side of it and have helped with good advice on how to make it work well for us.
Streaming has again hit the music headlines with MoS chief calling for an end to Freemium accounts. Streaming is definitely something which consumers are heading towards, and its fair to say music discovery is increased, but what of the artists? Is making all music consumption billable the way forward, or should we seek a mutually acceptable middle ground?
The opinion these days seems to be that if you can get it for free, then do it. It’s frustrating the amount of times people will ask for a track of us when its on beatport for £1.12p. We get hardly any financial reward for our music. The money you get per unit sold is really low and for someone to feel an artist deserves that tiny bit of money for their work is a shame. I wouldn’t go in a hairdressers and ask for a free haircut cause my Mum could do it at home for free, but that’s the mentality now.
OK, lets turn to the music… You have a number of singles out at the moment. Can you tell us about them?
Our Movin EP on our own label which has done amazingly well on vinyl is out on April 6th. The support already gained on that has been amazing. It featured in Richy Ahmed’s Essential Mix which was amazing. We’ve got 6 tracks coming out on VIVa due out in May on vinyl and digital. As well as that, so many remixes to mention. Plus EP’s with Hector Couto’s Roush, Lost Records and another on our very own System2 for number 006.
As established artists, how many tracks do you tend to release per year? Has this figure changed over the course of your career?
I think in the last year between now and last spring we’ve probably made around 180+ tracks. We cull them down and are using the very best. We tend to only really sign 10-20% of those. As far as releases go it just depends on who wants what, and what are schedule allows us to do.
Other than ‘Be yourself’, what useful advice can you give to new producers that you wished you’d been told?
The key with the music is be patient. Its the worst thing anyone can tell you cause every producer wants their music out there and sometimes rush stuff to get out that might not reflect their best work. Sometimes releasing average music will have an effect on the stuff you do in future. Certain labels are mindful of that and some won’t work with someone who has released on labels they deem not very cool
Outside of music, what do you do to relax and wind down?
Tez: I love football, Danny knits & likes spa days!
Hahaha well, its been great to meet you. can you tell us where else we can see you this year? Any big Ibiza plans?
It looks like we are gonna be out there playing a couple of times. Also have HD Festival, Outbreak Festival, Leeds Warehouse & maybe Sonar. Should be a great summer!