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Expect Something Fresh: Cyril Hahn Moving On From R&B

Sorry, Mariah Carey.
March 25, 2014, 9:03pm

After the release of his brand new track, "Getting There", Cyril Hahn graced Toronto with his presence for a packed show at The Hoxton. Despite limited space and breathing room, it was worth it to hear the thriving sounds of a producer whose talent continues to catch us off guard. Cyril showed his fans that he's over the remix life and capable of so much more. This Vancouver-based producer is moving on to work with vocalists to create original work that was played at his ultra fresh set.

We sat down with Cyril the next day to talk about what's next on the agenda for a producer whose career and talent is steady on the rise.

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THUMP: What's up, Cyril?
Cyril: Apparently there was a thief who was stealing cellphones last night? They caught him at the end. This is going on at different clubs or something, out of people's pockets. Super crazy.

That's unfortunate, it happens a lot around here. But let's talk about your first remix, "Touch My Body". Was that your first attempt at producing or did you try anything else before that?
I sort of messed around with recording on the computer in high school but it was more like post-rock instrumental songs. I was doing styles like Explosions in the Sky and Sigur Rós, that was just for fun and I wasn't really doing beats yet, that was something that came after. That Mariah Carey remix was my first attempt at a real electronic song.

And it just turned out really well on the first try?
Yeah I mean I didn't think much of it, but I knew I was really happy with it. I just showed my friends and they were like "Oh you should definitely put this one on the Internet."

You're signed with PMR Records, how's that whole experience been so far?
It's been really great. I still can't believe they picked me up in the first place, so I'm really happy about that. I'm working with a couple of the vocalists for my next release, which is nice. I just did a song with Javeon, and I'm working on songs with Jessie Ware and Bryan Ashley who is a new signee with them. It just feels like a family, you know? The label is so chill.

When I saw you at The Hoxton in October, you played all your classic remixes, the vibe was a lot slower, this time you really made it a party—not that it wasn't last time.
I think it's more that I'm getting sick of the remixes because last year I played over 100 shows; I've played them out so much. To me it's not really exciting anymore, you know? I'm working on new stuff and that's what I want to play now. I need to move forward, I don't want to be stuck in the history of my remixes. It's more of a personal thing.

So you're moving away from R&B sampling, is there a direction that you're planning on going with or is it whatever just feels good to you?
I think there was so much R&B at first because that's the kind of samples that were floating around online that you can download for free. So you start as a producer and you're like "Oh there's an Aaliyah a cappella." You hear so many bootlegs that are all R&B because that was all there was. But now that I have the opportunity to work with vocalists—to start something completely fresh, that's way more exciting to me. R&B was really good to start out with, but now it's lost its appeal.

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Do you listen to more dance music on your time off, or do you go for other sounds because you work with it so much?
Mostly other stuff, I really like the Wild Beast album. I've always been such a big fan of theirs. Fort Romeau, his new EP is really great. He's sort of like left-field house, really organic sounding. The new Leon Vynehall—that's probably my favorite release right now. I'd say when I listen to stuff in my free time that are not really stuff I play otherwise I'd get bored.

Ryan Hemsworth. I always see pictures of you guys together. Are you really good friends? What's your relationship with him like?
Yeah I'd definitely say we're good friends for sure. It's funny cause we kind of just started talking online maybe almost two years ago. We would just exchange our new songs or stuff like that. Then we ended up with the same booking agency and they asked us if we wanted to do a tour together and it was an easy yes for the both of us.

Have you guys ever collaborated on anything?
No actually, I remember we were talking about it before the tour, but I guess time just flew by. I still think we would both still be down but we just need to pick up the conversation again.

You say your production career was really unexpected, was there a specific song or event that made you want to get more into house music and what you're making now?
I mean it was probably after the "Say My Name" remix. That's when people started coming with show offers and I was just like—what? I never wanted to play live shows, that was never something I wanted to do or planned on doing. So that summer everything was just crazy and I took time to think about my options and the route I wanted to take. I was still in University, I hadn't finished my degree yet. I took the chance and stopped school. I put my heart in music and I'm glad I did.

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Is it really different trying to learn how to play a live show? Bedroom production and live shows are two very different things.
Production is completely different from playing live. It definitely took me a long time just to get used to being in front of so many people. I was never was a person who liked being the center of attention. I still get uncomfortable sometimes. People have strange expectations of you.

How did it feel last night when everyone was screaming for your "Say My Name" remix?
I mean it was nice, I wasn't expecting it. The last couple of shows I played were nice for me because people were up late in LA and it was a really great show because people were really into having fun and enjoying the music. I could tell they just liked hearing new sounds. Yesterday was one of the shows where I could tell that half the people were there to hear "Say My Name". So on one hand it's really nice and flattering. On the other its kind of like, this song was done two years ago and I'm over it. I just have to find a balance, 'cause I don't want to be like "I'm not playing that." It means a lot to some people to hear that song, I just need to find good balance and gage in advance. If I had known that was going to be the reaction I would have played it earlier in my set. [Laughs].

You spent a lot of time in Vancouver. Have you ever had a Japadog?
Oh yeah, definitely. I like the one with wasabi mayo and Japanese radish. I eat the veggie one because I don't eat meat, but they've got a lot of good toppings, seaweed flakes and it's pretty crazy good.

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