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Herve- Inspiration Is Distraction :: Skrufff.com

Reported by Tristan Ingram on December 21, 2007

“I was on the dole then and occasionally getting checks from the Snatch soundtrack tracks I did when I was younger, so I was mostly flat broke with moments of luxury then back to broke, just bumping along. Dave was broke too, just doing bits and bobs to keep afloat; it was just before people started to notice him, musically.”

Three years after he sat penniless in a Ladbroke Grove park, munching homemade sandwiches with his equally skint mate Dave (Dave Taylor, aka Switch), uber-hot dirty house producer Joshua 'Herve' Harvey has signed off unemployment benefit though he’s adamant not much else has changed,

“Making music and being a producer is my life; it’s what I’ve always done; I continue to get up every morning and write new songs or remix or sample hunt etc: though not being on the dole helps a bit,” he concedes.

“But back then it wasn’t so hard either because I could get up when I wanted, I had a computer, keyboard, microphone, guitar; I just needed to add imagination-.and hope! I had loads of time to make music so I did, all kinds, writing, singing, recording, eski beats, filmic things, jungle, house, electro everything, just learning all the time; sitting in my room and keeping out of trouble,” he says.

“I was obviously constantly questioning myself ‘Can I survive by making music? Have I made a huge mistake? But at the same time I totally believed in my abilities. It’s kinda’ weird: I’m just crazy stubborn and focused, I suppose.”

His self-belief has resulted in a slew of fantastic remixes and productions that, like his mate Switch, have confirmed his status as one of the most talented new stars in dance culture.  Remixing the likes of Goodbook’s The Illness, New Young Pony Club’s Eyes Cream, Larry Tee’s Licky, Unklejam’s Love Ya and releasing a slew of top quality releases as the Conte of Monte Cristo (with Sinden) and Dead Soul Brothers (with Seba) he’s dominated cooler clubs all year though ask him about five figure DJ fees and he laughs.

“My DJ fee has gone up a little, though I don’t really control what my agent does. Five figure fees though?! ”I think people have a distorted view of how much money people in my position make,” he laughs.


Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): Fact magazine said (in August): ’2007 has shaped up to be Herve’s year’: how much do you feel that you’ve ‘made it’?

Herve: “Not being on the dole (unemployment benefit) helps a bit. A few people in dance music know who I am but outside that no one else does so I don’t feel I’ve made it, and I’m not sure I think about that too much anyway. If I reached Pharell levels of success then I would feel I made it or did a big soundtrack. It’s difficult to say, I’ve not really thought about it. I just try and make enough to live on so I can continue my obsession with making music.”

Skrufff: How much is the goal to reach Oakenfold/ Tiesto levels of success? What do you think sets those Djs apart: do you have any ambitions to be in the Dj top100 (or care who’s in it?)

Herve: “Hmmmm not sure. I’m certainly driven to be the best and most successful I can be, but those names don’t spring to mind when I envisage being successful, I think of a white beach in the Mediterranean for some reason. Their music making has helped them massively I think, it gets your name around the world, and they do all that trance stuff which is unfashionable but madly popular which means they have a bigger audience I suppose- at least within dance music.  
The DJ Top 100 doesn’t mean that much to me, it would be nice to be in it I suppose, though I never read it.”

Skrufff: You’ve developed a distinctive ‘Herve’ sound: what do you aim to deliver when someone commissions you for a remix?

Herve: “When I’m remixing I like to give my best, give them something as good as I can. I make it for the dancefloor unless they ask for something different. I suppose I try to give them back a ‘big’ tune, something that will cause a ripple. Well I try to anyway.”

Skrufff: How much are you a perfectionist: when do you decide a mix is finished?

Herve: “I work incredibly fast; I know my equipment very well and I know how to reach all the sounds and make sounds very, very fast. I am a total perfectionist but that doesn’t mean things take a long time, as I know how to reach the levels I expect of myself quickly. I’m not a workaholic I just love to work. I remix tracks in my head, arrange them everything, as soon as I hear the track I need to remix. Then I make it happen in the studio when the parts turn up. It’s a cool way to do things, even when I’m not near a computer I can work in my head.  
It’s funny I only just thought about how much I do that.”

Skrufff: How much do you see ideas as something magical? Where/ how do you find inspiration?

Herve: “Inspiration is distraction. By which I mean; if I need to be inspired I will do something else, such as reading a book on a subject I know nothing about, watching something I wouldn’t normally watch, buying random music or calling my mum. Writing a script is particularly good because it takes my brain to somewhere far away from music production.”

Skrufff: How do you decide between using ideas for remixes and saving them for your own productions?

Herve: “Most of the time I just think ‘I will do something better next week anyway’, holding back is very rarely a good idea, you have to push and push yourself to do better and go forward, be like a shark and keep moving, creatively  (that’s why I have a few different names that I work under). Lack of change is DEATH (shouting). Change is hard but good.”

Skrufff: You grew up in Essex which is renowned for being pretty
rough: how much was violence an issue when you were a teenager?

Herve: “There was lots of fighting at the pubs but I was never really involved. I don’t look for violence and that normally helps to keep you out of trouble. I’m also 6 feet 4 (193cm) with three brothers the same or bigger. People just left us alone, which suited me fine. A few weird things have happened in clubs from time to time but I can handle it, no problem.”

Skrufff: In your interview about being skint in Notting Hill, you talked of being ‘surrounded by belching tramps’ in the park where you took lunch, how confident were you that you’d succeed in making a living through music?

Herve: “I had been so close with the band thing a few years earlier I thought I may have missed the boat (by the way DJ mag wrote recently that I had been in “several failed indie bands”, not true, I was in one indie band (with a kinda’ Beta Band / Beck/ Beatles /kraut rock
vibe) consisting of two people that was about to do very well thank you, as well as writing music for a very big British film (Snatch). I don’t know why they made that shit up . . . bizarre). Anyway I just kept believing I had what it took. It’s still too early for me to decide yet.”

Skrufff: You played your first live gig to just 8 people: why so few?

Herve: “It was our first ever Speaker Junk gig (with Trevor Loveys) and we had only had one record out. Another promoter in the town basically screwed the promoter we played for by putting on a night the same night and there’s a very limited amount of clubbers in that particular town. It was a cracking laugh though.”

Skrufff: What’s been the toughest DJ gig you’ve done? Do you still get dodgy requests?

Herve: “Playing Family at Cargo a while ago was weird, they play hip hop and ‘soulful’ house, not a great match. It wasn’t bad but stupid girls getting on stage and asking for R&B didn’t go down well with me.  
I’m not a jukebox.”

Skrufff: How important is image for Djing/ making music these days; do you use moisturiser and have you ever worn eye liner?

Herve: “I’ve never worn eyeliner, though I do use moisturiser (for men, they seem to call it ‘re-hydration’) I think image is more important than it used to be in dance music. If you want to sell records, get good gigs etc. people need to know who you are.”

Skrufff: Your latest EP features to tracks built around Eye of the Tiger and: Thriller: do you have any worries you might have tarnished your ‘cool’?

Herve: “Oh good god! Who gives a f**k about that shit. I do what the f**k I like, that’s why I stuck with it in some ways, to do what I like all the time. I have done boring underground records as well but I have an imagination and I like to flex it. Do you know what’s really cool? Working hard, playing hard and being good to each other, that’s what I think is cool. Oh yeah and that Burial dude; his new album is amazing.”


Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)