“We basically set the blueprint for the whole bassy, speed garagey, mash-up thing — bass house, fidget, wonk, wobble. All that stuff we did in a period of about two years — me and Trev, me and Sinden, me and Switch, and individually."
For anyone dancing a decade ago, when his first release came out, Hervé, aka Josh Harvey, was one of a few fresh stars pushing a new breed of distinctly UK house music. Bass-heavy, energetic, peppered with breakbeats and sample-happy, his productions — whether under Hervé or Voodoo Chilli, as one half of Speaker Junk with Trevor Loveys, or as The Count & Sinden, alongside Graeme Sinden — were tearing up UK clubs, aided by a non-stop string of remixes for high-profile acts.
His label Cheap Thrills, meanwhile, was making a similarly massive mark thanks to hits like Fake Blood’s ‘Mars’. It led to working with Armand Van Helden and Fatboy Slim, but a few years later, Sinden and Switch having both moved to LA and the sonic landscape changed, he admits to feeling disconnected from the UK club scene, something hinted at in the title of 2013’s album, ‘The Art Of Disappearing’.
It’s follow-up on Skint, ‘Hallucinated Surf’, however, signals his return. A double album split between more raucous dancefloor work-outs, like recent single ‘Bang The Drum’, and a second CD that instead shows a deft touch for downtempo, moving between field recordings, shoe-gazey fuzz and Tru Thoughts-esque beats, it’s the beginning of a reappearance that includes forthcoming remixes from Champion and Lone.
Add to that a new Cheap Thrills EP of even heavier cuts, alongside further releases from new artists, plus an offshoot label with an associated party, Illegal Bass, and you have the beginning of yet another chapter in Hervé’s remarkable career…
The second half of 'Hallucinated Surf' will probably come as a big surprise to people. Is this new influences, or going back to something from before you became known for dancefloor dynamite?
“It’s very much an extension of my last album. The club stuff in 2012/13 wasn’t really bringing me very much satisfaction. I realised I was also seen as a kind of bass guy, which was only a small part of my musical make-up and influences. That album and the second disc is a reflection of the other side of me. It’s like, you’ve got the body with disc one, the heart and mind with disc two.”
Be honest. Is it also a pitch for soundtrack work?
“One hundred percent. I was in a small duo and we did the Snatch soundtrack, the Guy Ritchie film, the title track ‘Diamond’, then we did another called ‘Are You There?’, so I kind of did that before. It’s an incredibly well-worn cliché, dance producer does something with strings in to close album, then says I’d like to do soundtracks.
Everybody would like to, and most people probably don’t have the ability to do it. It’s definitely something I’d like to do more of. I’m in the process of doing a short film with my brother, which I’ll probably soundtrack. And a friend of mine is working on his first feature film; hopefully I’ll be in the running for that.
“So it’s partly that, but it’s partly making something emotive which doesn’t rely on a four-four kick-drum, which is a very easy trick to get you making music. It’s essentially about trying to make something beautiful.”
Dave Switch and Graeme Sinden both upped sticks to LA. Were you never tempted? Are you still in touch?
“With Sinden definitely, with Dave not really. Not that anything bad happened, just different worlds. When Sinden comes back to the UK we always make as much time as possible to hang out. I’d say we’re pretty damn-good friends. Same with Trevor Loveys.
Dave has always been an elusive character. As much as I was part of the whole Dubsided thing and Sinden was part of it, we didn’t have much contact with him. We hung out in the studio and had beers like everyone else, but he was always away a lot.”
“I’ve got a bit of agoraphobia so I find it hard being in small, contained spaces with no clear exit. Long-haul flights are not possible, basically. It’s curbed my DJ career to a certain extent but at the same time it’s enabled me to develop a lot more in the studio and to do other projects outside of music, like screenwriting. If I could I would definitely see what it was like over there. Sinden loves it.”
Can you tell us more about your screenwriting?
“It was something I did at university and was pretty good at, but then was completely swept along with music for a good five years, from late 2005 to 2011. It was just insane madness; I don’t know how many gigs or festivals that I played.
With The Count & Sinden I did so much, as Hervé I did so much, as Speaker Junk it was insane right from the off. The first remix we got asked to do was for Basement Jaxx, after we’d released our first 12”. Then I worked with Armand Van Helden and Fatboy Slim. So it’s only been in the last few years that I reconnected with that whole side and am playing around with cameras again and stuff like that.”
We just had a listen to your remix of Roisin Murphy's 'Overpowered' and had a flashback to sweaty East London raves. Do you have any particular favourite from your back catalogue?
“God, yeah. In 2013 I put together a mixtape of all my Count & Sinden, Hervé and Speaker Junk remixes. I didn’t put it out as it didn’t feel the right time and I felt disconnected from the club scene. Then Complex did it [via SoundCloud] a few months ago.
It was a strange feeling of going back through that stuff and remembering the good times associated with those songs. I suppose my ‘Licky’ remix of Larry T and Princess Superstar and the Kidda remix of ‘Under The Sun’, there were so many. Getting to remix Orbital and The Chemical Brothers. It was mental. All my dance music dreams came true in a period of two or three years.”
After riding such a giant wave like that, how do you deal with it when it inevitably breaks?
“I always knew that it would. As Klint we were a big favourite of Rough Trade, they were bigging us up as the next big thing after the Beta Band and things like that. That never materialised. We learnt from a very early age that things appear to be the big ticket, and then they don’t really happen.
It’s just about getting back up there, or taking a break, or whatever suits you. It was five or six years of craziness, but inevitably music changes. You just chill a bit and work under different names to satisfy creative urges that come in the new scenes.
At the beginning of last year, when I signed to Skint, I told them of my new endeavour and they were totally excited and really onboard. I thought they were going to run away and tell me to fuck off! But they didn’t at all. That’s what last year was spent doing, putting this together.”