Techno music is about innovation, but it is also a reflection of the state of consumer technology at the time, which is what defines its sound and its musical journey. When Juan Atkins and Derrick May first got together in a Detroit basement in the late 80’s they tried to create the sound of the future with drum machines that had already slipped into obscurity, namely the Tr808 and Tr909 because the trends had moved away from analog machines to digital samples that sounded more “real”. These old Roland machines may have cost as little as $100 back then from a thrift store because they were so unfashionable people were almost giving them away ( and the TB303 ). These old boxes fetch $000’s on the second-hand market today.
Because people love those old original sounds and those machines are the only things that really deliver that specific sound, and that’s fine if you want an old skool vibe. But techno music is about the future, not about the past. Techno doesn’t wallow in its olden days as much as say Jazz or Rock music does. No, techno DJs are always looking for new ways to play, producers are looking for new production techniques to make music with an edge, and if you tie yourself to a 909 & 303 you’ll be stuck with one sound. A great sound, but one sound nonetheless with very little flexibility outside of that.
Hydraulix has been on a mission to push the boundaries of what we call techno, or even what we call “Acid Techno” if you like. The label was part of the illegal party scene in London and is synonymous with Stay Up Forever and the Liberator DJs and the London free party scene. Our labels had many of the same producers and S.U.F. enabled Hydraulix to get off the ground in the first place as they did with many London techno labels and continue to do to this day. Hydraulix was known at the time as the Acid Techno label without any acid in it.
So now here we all are… and it’s all change yet again. Vinyl has slumped, it’s rebuilding a bit but it’ll never go back to where it was as the king of the formats, which is a shame. We’ve all just got too damn used to the convenience of MP3 and USB and mobile devices. The software has become super powerful and so have computers, 196Khz sample rates 32bit floating point internal processing, Gigabytes/Terabytes SSD HD, Ram is measured in Gigs now not Megs (soon it’ll be terabytes). It is absolutely fucking mental how far we have come in such a short time, mind-blowing in fact!
Many producers now edit videos along with their tracks because the music software has become so powerful you can do this easily. All these possibilities around us, all these creative outlets, the world is just begging for us to do something creative right now.. and STILL, we have this resilience, this reluctance to move forward, the braying pack who shout at you if you don’t play their favorite tune from 15 years ago, the vinyl junkies who try to make you feel inferior for wanting to use anything else. People who insist you need to “mix” even though most of them can’t do it very well. The Facebook generation of “I can do it better than you” yeah that means all of us, You & myself included, I’m no better.
So what do we do about it?
We channel our energy into music, we try to do things differently next time, we try a new plug-in, we try using something we have never used before, we buy a synth, we use a mic, we play an instrument, we go outside and record an hour of us bashing the shit out of a plastic dustbin. I don’t really know, but one thing I do believe is that you don’t go forward by looking backward, and yes lot’s of great things happened in the past but they are in the past, and that is where they will stay, growing old, just like us, caught in the inevitable march of time.
Techno music is about the future, it embraces the ideas of the past to stay in the present and push music into the future that’s where Hydraulix is trying to go, on its own small mission to move the music forward into the future. So next time you hear a Hydraulix track and you just want to hear the old sound, stop for a minute, think why the label might be going down this road, and see if you can tune into it. You never know you might like it.
Thanks for your support.