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4HERO interview

   4HERO

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Look up 4hero (easily with a name like that) on what will soon be the only place you really need to look up anything (Wikipedia) and you'll get the basics: 4hero is a band from Dollis Hill, North London, comprising Dennis 'Dego' McFarlane, Mark 'Marc Mac' Clair," it sTarts, then mentions two earlier members, discusses the spelling or rather spacing of the name... points out how they are renowned as pioneers and front runners in jungle and drum and bass, and then tosses in the notable, " the group obtained a Mercury Music Prize nomination for their 1998 album Two Pages." Hmm, bet you didn't know that! And if you only just got turned on to 4hero and their latest album, which leans heavily on R&B, you may not know they got their start releasing uptempo breakbeat house and techno, then hardcore (yes, hardcore), jungle, and drum 'n' bass. But their desire to produce timeless classics has resulted in what you hear on Play with The Changes.

So what was behind their latest album, and do they have girlfriends? We wanted to know the answers to our typical mix of silly and serious questions, and we were lucky enough to have Marc's wife (oops sorry about the girlfriend question!) transcribe his answers to a few of our questions for another exclusive Raves.com/DJfix.com email interview!

Email interviews can be a little impersonal... So let's start with where are you right now as you answer these questions and what’s going on (or what’s it look like) around you?

It's 11.15am on a Wednesday morning in the UK. Sitting on the sofa looking out the window, it's quite a frosty day looks like it going to snow. My little boy is on the floor reading books (he's 2 and a half). I'm dictating these answers to my wife who is doing the typing because she's much faster than me (lol).

You've probably been asked this a million times but I couldn't find the answer anywhere so I'm askin again... "Dego" and or "Marc Mac"... how did you get those nicknames?

My one's quite simple. My real name is Marc Anthony Clair so people would call me MAC which has ended up being Marc Mac.

What is the latest piece of music gear or instrument you acquired?

I'm always getting plug-ins for logic audio but it was good to get something physical, a friend of mine just came back from Ghana and brought me back a small African drum. Whenever friends or family go abroad I always ask them to bring me back a strange instrument. I have quite a collection now.

Did you use that when making your album?

No not this one.

What were some of the hardware and software elements (and instruments) used while making Play With The Changes?

It varies, there was a lot of organic instruments used. To give an example we had over 40 people playing a part in someway. Drums, electric bass, acoustic bass, various guitars, loads of percussion, analogue synthesizers, violins, violas, cellos and flutes. As for electronic equipment, the heart of the studio is a PC running Logic Audio and plenty of 3rd party plug-in's and virtual synths. I have loads of other outboard hardware, the two most important parts of the non-software studio is a 24 track Soundtrack mixing desk and a old school stereo valve compressor.

Focusing on sounds, do you have a favorite sound module, software, or keyboard that you tend to use often, and if so, what is it about the product that attracts you to it?

Yes, I have a favorite synthesizer it is an Arp Odyssey. I love all the sounds from Arp in general. This one is great for modeling sounds from white noise to large bass. Funny enough I didn't get to use much of it on this album.

And how about what you use to tweak sounds? Any favorite tools?

A lot of this kind of processing is done in Logic and with 3rd Party effects plug-ins. My favorite of these and the one's I probably used most on the album are PSP VintageWarmer and MasterQ. I like these because they have a warm sound to them. I also used AmpliTube for all bass, guitars and even the Rhodes keyboard amp simulation.

How did you come up with the album's title?

The title actually came from the track that Larry Mizell wrote but it also seemed like a great title for the complete album.

Tell me about some (or all!) of the collaborators you worked with - why you chose them & what were they like to work with?

When it comes to the collaborators I feel that we've been quite lucky over the years to work with a lot of our personal heroes i.e. Roy Ayers, Jill Scott, Terry Callier and Digable Planet's Butterfly. We kind of continued the tradition on the album with having one of our all time favorite producers Larry Mizell on the album and the great Jody Watley. We always intended to work with Jody since the Two Pages album and it was great to finally do this on 'Bed on Roses'. She just seems to fit with the 4hero sound very well, lyrically and consciously. It was great to work with Phonte and Darien also. I met Phonte on one of his trips to London when Little Brother were playing at the Jazz Café. We hung out and had a good chat and I found that he had been digging 4hero music for quite a few years and knew a lot about our productions. We kept in contact via email and decided to do a track together, the result is 'Give in' with him and Darien blending seamlessly with the 4hero sound. Ursula Rucker is always great to work with and she knows our music so well, she's kind of like the 5th element of the 4hero sound.

What keeps you motivated to make music?

Life, love and more music.

It's Saturday night. Where would we usually find you and what would you be doing?

These days if not DJing or in the studio I'd be at home getting to grips with family life.

Do you have girlfriends?

I did until I married one of them (lol)

If there were one thing you could change about the music industry, what would it be?

Make it a vinyl only world again.

If there were one thing you could change in your life... or the world... what would THAT be?

If I had that kind of power, the first thing I'd realize is that one change would never be enough.

Anything else you'd like to add?

No. See ya.

Thank you and see ya soon we hope!!

:: www.myspace.com/4hero ::

:: www.4hero.co.uk ::

 

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