We’re excited to be hosting the world premiere of Youth & Power, the new album from London-based producer Hyetal.
Hyetal (real name David Corney) unveiled his debut album, Broadcast, in 2011 via Bristol’s Black Acre imprint. Corney lived in Bristol at the time and the experimental electronic DNA of the city was a major influence on his sound. Two years later, he put out Modern Worship via Matador subsidiary True Panther Sounds – gathering critical acclaim for his playful and captivating subversions of murky club sounds presented with glossy, productional varnish.
More than three years after that and Corney returns with Youth & Power – a nine-track voyage into kaleidoscopic pop and futuristic production released through his Other/other Recordings label which he started with artist and friend James Ginzburg. Where Hyetal’s past releases have looked inward – digging from the underground and twisting sounds into alien shapes – Youth & Power is a forward-facing piece of work. Recorded at Corney’s South London home studio, the razor-sharp hooks, rich melodies and live instrumentation owe a lot to the formative pop sounds he was raised on. But that’s not to discredit the shapeshifting production blueprints he absorbed in Bristol which unravel in the intricate beat patterns and more subtle shades. It’s also the first time we’re introduced to Hyetal the vocalist, his obscured singing anchoring the album’s more theatrical moments – sometimes abstracted through production and sometimes left clearer in the mix.
Conceptually, the record grapples with (but isn’t bound by) themes of detachment, emotional depersonalisation, creative isolation and a search for spontaneity – a feeling which seems to be achieved as Corney lets the light in on the final few tracks. Existing somewhere between Mount Kimbie, Pet Shop Boys and Lorenzo Senni – it’s a quietly euphoric pop album with captivating production. We caught up with Dave over email to discuss the album which you stream and buy via Bandcamp below.
It’s been four years since the last album, what have you been up to?
Recalibrating basically. I scrapped an EP of stuff which I was supposed to release on True Panther after my second album. Those were the first songs I wrote with my vocals upfront but I felt I needed to develop the ideas more. By the time I got myself together I had an album’s worth of demos ready but I’d missed my place. The label wanted to release the album but for whatever boring reasons were unable to, so effectively I was put on the shelf for a while.
We parted ways totally amicably in the end and I set up Other/other with James so I could take responsibility for how and when I release my music. It has taken a bit of time to get it all going and to readjust to doing things in a D.I.Y style again but I’m really excited about the label and hopefully at some point it can work as a place where friends and others can release also.
Could you elaborate on the idea that this record is more founded on what you listened to as a kid?
Like most people I guess I was mainly listening to music with more traditional structures back then. My mum would have been playing pop music, whatever was on the radio in the late 80s/ 90s. My Dad’s tastes were quite eclectic, he’d been a big prog rock fan in the 70s so was playing a lot of that. Their common ground was Bowie and 70s folk stuff like Richard Thomson. I think the music you hear at a really young age, before you have much of a choice, leaves a massive impression on your subconscious and can trigger a really emotionally potent kind of nostalgia.
I was revisiting some of what I would have heard around that time and also music I loved in my early teens, Smashing Pumpkins and Deftones, then later Fugazi and The Cure. I think the influence of all of that stuff probably crept in in various ways, the most obvious I guess would be in the use of live instruments and my singing.
Can you talk a little bit about the feeling of detachment which sparked the vision for the album?
Yes, depersonalisation is something I’ve experienced for as long as I can remember but only recently learnt it had a name. I think it’s tied into a lot of other stuff for me, at times I can feel completely detached from my body, like I’m watching the conversation take place when i’m speaking to someone, or I’ll look down at my hands and feet and feel like they’re not connected to me. I definitely daydreamed a lot when I was a kid and I think that was kind of a coping mechanism. I felt like the music I had been making was in someways a continuation of this same type of escapism and I decided that wasn’t very helpful anymore.
I found the physicality of singing made me feel more routed in the moment and the idea of feeling detached and trying to reconnect was a theme that kept cropping up in the lyrics. I do think it’s important to distinguish though that this was a catalyst for what the record became rather than a strict conceptual framework. There’s a lot of music released at the moment that’s propped up by academic context and fails to work when those concepts are removed. The music I make works best for me when I feel there may be a chance that it’s able to communicate something to someone else, a feeling or a mood, that I wouldn’t be able to articulate in any other way.
In what ways do you think Bristol can be heard on this LP?
I’ve lived in London for the last four years and that’s where the album was recorded but the time I spent in Bristol definitely still has an influence on what I make. Living there in the very early days of dubstep and being involved with some of that, even just in a very fringe sense, felt like being part of something that was important to a lot of people and that the wider world was paying attention to. It definitely helped the music I released at that time reach a bigger audience.
I generally still approach writing as a producer first, I’m not trying to be the best singer or musician, in a lot of ways it’s how the recordings are shaped and processed that make them work. Dance music production techniques are ingrained in my approach to writing any kind of electronic music, so even if this album at times feels quite far removed from dance floor orientated stuff, that influence was still there on some level. It would have sounded pretty different if I’d never lived in Bristol.
Are there any sounds or anything which inspired this record which we might not have expected?
I recorded most of the album at a place I was living in Peckham that was on a residential street, so quiet in terms of traffic but lively with other types of sound. The flat was between two schools and a church so when I was at home writing I would have a mic out the window for an hour or so to see what it picked up. All of the atmospheric sounds on the album were made from manipulating these recordings so there’s a sound of a school playground on Youth & Power and Permanence which open and close the album. Other tracks have manipulated recordings from the sound of the church and people walking past.
It was totally unintentional at the time but the nature of the recordings fit well with some of the themes that came up in the album’s lyrics . The album title is about duality for me, that Youth & Power can be a negative view of a society with an unbalanced obsession for obtaining impossible standards of beauty/ youthfulness, money and control. But also retaining hope in the belief that the actual youth might be able to change things one day.
Now you’re back and delivering music again, do you think you’ll leave it so long next time!?
I certainly wouldn’t choose to. I mean I’m definitely not someone who writes quickly but the passage of time between this and the last album was so long it almost feels like starting again. I no longer have the traditional music industry set up around me and that feels both exciting/ liberating and a bit daunting at this point. I did consider changing my artist name and using this album to start a new project but there’s still an obvious thread to it all for me and I also wanted to push a bit against how disposable a lot of internet/ music culture stuff can be these days.
There were factors that were out of my control which slowed down my ability to release music before but as long as people seem interested I’ll continue to put stuff out as regularly as possible, so hopefully no more four year delays!