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by Adam Tait | Photos by Cyril Hahn / Facebook

Tags: Cyril Hahn

Cyril Hahn: 'R&B tracks have the best hooks'

Remix star on the state of urban music and how he chooses remix projects

 

Cyril Hahn: 'R&B tracks have the best hooks'

Photo: Cyril Hahn / Facebook

Vancouver native Cyril Hahn has been making quite a name for himself recently as a remixer extraordinaire. He came to many people's attention with his remix of 'Say My Name' by Destiny's Child, and since then has reworked everything from Solange to HAIM.

His work gives tracks that were originally critically acclaimed a whole new feel, making them ethereal and otherworldly.

The DJ jets into the UK to perform at The Parklife Weekender in June, and Gigwise caught up with him to find out what's needed to make a good remix, why he likes working with R&B tracks and what he's got planned for the near future...

How do you go about choosing a song to remix? What ingredients does a 'remixable' track require?
Since I usually only work with the vocals of the original track, the acapella is obviously really important to me. Certain acapellas have hooks that just stand out more than others.

You first came to our attention with your 'Say My Name' remix. Are you a big Destiny’s Child fan?
Not particularly. 'Say My Name' was just one of those 90s R&B tracks that I always enjoyed and I thought it’d be fun to mess around with it.

Who is your favourite R&B star? And why do you mainly choose to remix R&B tracks?
I’d say my favourite R&B producer/musician is The-Dream. I love both his own songs and stuff he produces for other musicians. One reason why I mainly work with R&B acapellas so far is just the fact that they've got the best hooks. I love all the “oohs" and “mmhs” which is quite characteristic for contemporary R&B.

Another reason is the fact that R&B acapellas are just what’s out there on the web. When you start out as a producer you don’t really have the option yet to work with vocalists unless they are your friends. So what do you do? You go on torrent sites and download a bunch of samples and 90% of them will be R&B samples. Fortunately I do have the opportunity to work with vocalists now for my originals and it’s been a great experience so far.

Check out Cyril's remix of 'Say My Name' below

We've noticed you generally like to work on tracks by female artists? Is there a reason behind that?
When I started doing remixes I really liked pitching down vocals and there’s just something about pitching down female vocals that really struck me. The originals I am working on at the moment though have both female and male vocals and I don’t always mess with the pitch anymore.

How do you feel about the current R&B revival thanks to the likes of Frank Ocean and The Weeknd?
I wouldn’t really call it a revival since R&B has always been around in the mainstream over the last couple of years. I think what’s interesting is that people like Frank Ocean and The Weeknd started out from the underground and bring something really fresh to the table.

Did you worry for R&B last year when tracks like Nicki Minaj's 'Pound Da Alarm' saw such success?
I’ve never heard of that song, haha. The title sounds pretty awful though so I am kinda scared to look it up. I wouldn’t really worry for a genre though. I mean that’s just the way it is, genres will always change over the years. At one point a genre might be accepted by the mainstream and hated by the underground, at another point it could be pronounced dead or resurrected. As long as there are creative minds who push music into new directions I wouldn’t really worry too much. There will always be amazing music and there will always be awful music.

What's your favourite track to play that gets the dancefloor moving?
At the moment it's Luminaire - 'Like We Used To'.

Check out Cyril's remix of HAIM's 'Don't Save Me' below

You're playing Manchester's Parklife in June and Croatia's Unknown in September. Who are you looking forward to playing alongside?
Oh man, it’s an endless list, really. Four Tet, John Talabot, Todd Terje, Danny Brown, Lapalux, Bicep, George Fitzgerald, obviously all my PMR label mates and many many more.

Who do you think is making the best remixes at the moment (apart from youself)? Who are you a fan of?
I’d say keep an eye out for Ryan Hemsworth, Falcons and Kaytranada.

What's the strangest track you've ever remixed or thought about remixing?
I have a lot of demos of ridiculous tracks I started remixing. 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' being one of them.

What's the next big remix we can expect from Cyril Hahn?
I am currently finishing up my first release for PMR Records. I had the chance to work with some really great vocalists and I couldn’t be happier. From May-July I’ll be back in Europe for lots of shows and festivals and in the fall it’s time for my first North American tour.

How does it feel to have the support of Annie Mac, The XX, Rob da Bank and Diplo?
It was really unreal when it started happening. I’d say the support from The XX as probably the craziest as I’ve always been a big fan of theirs.

Thank you very much, Cyril Hahn.  He will perform at The Parklife Weekender in Manchester on 8-9 June, 2013. Tickets available from parklife.uk.com and Unknown Festival, Croatia, 10-14 September, unknowncroatia.com

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