Kieran Hebden interview
Kieran Hebden chats to Roz Wilson ahead of his final set in the lounge for Border Community.
endclub.com: How are you doing?
Kieran Hebden: I’m good thanks – just doing a bit of housework actually!
Saturday 22nd is the last Border Community at The End – how are you feeling about the final night here?
Obviously I’m looking forward to it as it’s going to be loads of fun, but at the same time it’s going to be really sad. It’s only been two years, but it’s been a really significant two years, so it kind of feels like it’s been going on forever! I was just getting into the pace of doing my lounge sets every few months, so it’s a real shame it has to finish. But I’m sure it’s going to be a great night!
Although Border Community is one of the club’s newer residencies, it has quickly become one of the best loved. What is it that makes the night so special?
The selection of guests along with the residents has been really great, and I think it attracts a crowd that are quite open minded – they’re ready for the music to take unexpected twists and turns, and I think everyone playing there feels quite comfortable that the audience is up for hearing something a bit different.
Do you feel you are able to play a bit more experimental with your sets here?
Doing 99% with Timo Maas was brilliant, but the crowd definitely wanted to hear straight up banging techno. With Border, James and I both have a really similar musical outlook, so it just fits really well with my style.
One of the things that always strikes me about Border Community is that it has a real family vibe to it – pretty much like The End. Would you agree?
Yes totally. I feel hugely grateful to James for being happy to have me involved in the whole thing even though I’m not signed to his label. It’s had quite a big impact on me, both in my music, and on the type of gigs I’ve been getting. Now quite often James and I get booked to play together – we’ve done Italy and Germany recently. I think people see that we do the night here, and ask for the same thing in other places. So it’s been really fun, as I’ve been getting to branch out to a totally different audience - before Border I didn’t really have much of a reputation for being involved in dance music.
You always get the lounge rocking at Border – it has become one of the highlights of the night. How has the residency allowed you to develop as a DJ?
Before The End I wasn’t really doing much DJing, but then I went to Ibiza with Timo and he suggested that I start playing longer sets, and asked me to come and play with him at The End – that changed everything for me really. I didn’t even know what I was doing the first time I played, I didn’t have enough techno records to last all night! It’s been a huge learning process for me over the last few years, and the music I have been making reflects that.
Last time we spoke you mentioned that you’d written a track inspired by your sets at The End - what is it about the venue that you find really inspiring?
My residency at The End has just got me really interested in dance music. When I first started doing stuff with Timo about three years ago, people were kind of ignoring dance music a bit, as everyone was listening to indie bands. But in a way it was quite refreshing, as you’d go to a club and people weren’t there because it was in some hipster magazine, they were there because they were really into the music. I think that’s one of the things I like about The End - it doesn’t encourage people to be showy and flamboyant, it encourages people to really get into the music. You can wear anything you want, do anything you want, and hide away in a little corner somewhere and not be noticed for the whole night if you’re so inclined! The End and Plastic People are my two favourite clubs in London, as they are both all about the music.
Your lounge sets are hugely diverse – is there any genre that you aren’t able to play in there?
On a Saturday night when you start deviating too far from the 4/4 kickdrum sometimes people get a bit restless. When I try and play speed garage, everyone looks at me kind of confused - but I like to weave in a few different genres like dubstep here and there. Last time I was there I played ‘Binary Finary’, this massive trance track. I don’t know anything about trance, and I’d never heard it before, but James had told me to check it out, and I was like, “Wow – I’m going to play this!” James thought the idea of me playing ‘Binary Finary’ in The End’s lounge was hilarious. So anway, I played it - but people seemed kind of irritable about it - coming up to me and looking a bit annoyed with this, “What are you doing?!” expression. I’m not sure I’ll risk playing it again! The thing about Border is that the crowd can be pretty serious about their music. Nathan, Avus and the other guys are always giving me CDs of tracks they’re working on, so a lot of new stuff gets played – and some people there are all over that, checking out what the track is and trying to hunt it down on the internet the next day. So if they ask what a track is and I’m like, “Erm…Binary Finary?” it doesn’t quite cut the mustard!
You played the main room as a one off a few months ago, how did you find it?
Massively stressful! I just didn’t want to mess it up, I was pretty nervous, but it went really well in the end. Although you have to consolidate everything you’re doing into just two hours, whereas I really enjoy doing those long sets, so you’ve got all the time in the world to play absolutely everything you want. I’ve got into the habit of studying people in the lounge and figuring out how to entertain them. When it kicks off in there, and people who’ve just come through to grab a drink end up staying, it gets really exciting. For about an hour each time there will be a moment when it really gels. When the lounge is good, it’s very very good!
Any chance of finding you propping up the bar at Jaded afterwards the last Border?
I have to admit, I rarely make it into AKA! The last half hour or so of the night, it can get a bit ugly. James will be playing and I’ll be standing in the DJ booth feeling like my eyeballs are about to drop off, so generally I sneak off home. So I’m afraid probably not!
Cheers Kieran, see you on Saturday!