Rock 'n' rolllllllll! That's the feeling many people have been experiencing on dancefloors across the world thanks to breaks, a subgenre that might, in fact, be considered the punk rock of dance music. Marked by dirty, aggressive percussion and an underground vibe, the music blasts from the speakers as key tracks from breaks artists like Adam Freeland, Meat Katie, Hybrid and Überzone rock your world. Like every other form of music, breaks have an icon, a figurehead to carry the sound to the masses. Currently, it's Hyper.
Hyper (aka Guy Hatfield) has consistently been one of the major players on the UK breaks scene. Despite the good fortunes that came from his previous mix CDs (two separate mixes for John Digweed's Bedrock label and one for Distinctive's Y3K series), Hyper's first true forum to showcase his mixing, remixing and production capabilities comes with his first “independent” project, the recently released Wired (Thrive, 2004). One such track on the CD, Hyper's remix of Moguai's “Get On,” is a heavy-metal breaks track packed with sinister guitars and crunching percussion; it also happens to be one of the most popular breaks tracks on the planet.
Guitar effects appear on a number of Hyper tracks and have become a trademark to define both his productions and his DJ sets. To achieve the guitar sound without the presence of live guitars, Hyper uses a number of key plug-ins. “[IK Multimedia] AmpliTube is a really great plug-in for getting the sound of the guitar,” he says. “There's also a really good plug-in called [reFX] Slayer Virtual E-Guitar VSTi that we used to get the guitar for ‘Slapper,’ the first single I did for Timo Maas' 420 label. Lastly, there's also a really good plug-in called [Steinberg] Virtual Guitarist that has a really great live-guitar sound.”
A good example of how Hyper uses guitar samples to change the complexion of a dance track comes in the way of his recent remix of Paul van Dyk's “Crush.” “With the remix of ‘Crush,’ we took [van Dyk's] big, cheesy synth line and changed all the notes,” Hyper says. “We actually played all the same notes, but we changed them from the synth line to the guitar and made it hugely grittier.” Hyper essentially “toughened up” the German trance master's track without drastically changing the song's structure, making a slight change go a long way — and it rocks!
Taking his vast amount of DJ and production knowledge to task with Wired, Hyper sought to offer a CD that was more suitable for home listening and less indicative of his true DJ sets. “When you're doing a listening album, you don't want to be doing something with 12 dancefloor tracks with the arrangements that most dancefloor tracks require,” he says. “You don't need 32-bar intros; those are for DJ tools. We edited stuff and moved tracks around and shortened tracks to make things more listenable, rather than just include hot dancefloor tracks. Many DJs who release mix CDs make the huge mistake of thinking that they are just going to put a load of dancefloor tracks on an album, and that's it. The listeners aren't in the club dancing, but rather they are at home, so you need to think of it differently.”
The past month has been busy for Hyper. He not only release Wired but also continued to run the everyday operations of his own Kilowatt label and married his sweetheart. However, as soon as he said, “I do,” the Crystal Method stole the groom away to be the opening act for its 50-plus-date Legion of Boom tour — the opportunity of a lifetime for a DJ who so well represents the underground to reach a mainstream American audience. Hyper is currently working on his debut artist album, which he says features samples from punk bands, including Killing Joke; vocals from The Prodigy's Leeroy Thornhill; and perhaps even a guest spot from The Pixies' Joe Santiago. The CD is due out next year, and by that time, you'll know that despite his name, Hyper is much more than just a bunch of hype.