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Interview with Hiem for the L2SB website.
Locked in their studio in the depths of the City Centre, Hiem have been carefully crafting some of the finest electronic music to come out of Sheffield for a good long time. It’s about to be unleashed onto the world. I’m told to bring some loose women, some beer and a Scotch egg. Or no interview.
I arrive woman-less and egg-less, but with a few cans of lager. They don’t seem to mind after all, which is something of a relief.
You’ll recognise them both. Bozz was the onetime frontman with the All Seeing I, and Nick was bassist in Russell Senior’s post-Pulp project Venini. They met at Reading Festival, had a fight because Nick was eating Bozz’s Scotch eggs, but were soon forming Stardust Bubblegum, a “Spinal Tap”-style glam covers band that played a one-off gig at the Casbah.
“I thought it was the best gig I’d ever done,” says Bozz. “f*cked Reading off and Leeds and all that bollocks. That night, it was like f*cking magic. But obviously we’re not going to start doing T-Rex covers! But it was good fun.”
“Yeah, we just hit it off, really,” says Nick. “Bozz had already wrote some songs and we just got on that well, and bad at times, that we thought f*ck it, let’s have a band.”
It’s been four years with not much of a peep from the pair. This length of time has seen them honing their sound until they’ve been ready to let the world hear what they’ve being doing., Recent tracks released on the ‘Flexipop’ and ‘Northern Electronic’ compilations have cause quite a stir among the trendy crowd, getting them heavy rotation in Europe and clubs like Manchester’s Club Suicide.
“We didn’t really send stuff out. It got passed on through a friend to Flexipop,” says Nick, “and then it just got put out, and they loved it. And basically it’s just gone on from there, we knew it could get signed and we knew it was good enough to take on the road and stuff, but we were a bit scared.
“After getting to the bitter end with All Seeing I and Venini, it was like ‘urgh, do we want it to happen?’ Not really.”
Nick and Bozz’s brushes with fame left them with a bad taste in their mouths to say the least. This is at least partly why it has taken them so long to emerge from their studio.
“The myth was broken for me and Nick a bit,” says Bozz. “I spent so many years trying to do something and when I actually did something I thought ‘god, is this really what it’s all about?’
“At the end of the day, it was a happy time, for Nick and for me, and at the same time it was a very unhappy time. It left me freaked out for a bit, and it left Nick freaked out for a bit. I wouldn’t f*cking talk to anyone for about eight months, my head was weirded out. But that’s what you get.”
“I bought a one way ticket to Mexico,” says Nick, “but me ex-girlfriend saved me from all that stuff.”
“It was just a bit of a weird one,” says Bozz, “because I came here and was just doing underground stuff, and next minute I get asked to do all these concerts and go on Top of the Pops and all that, and it all became a bit too much for me. And the same with Nick I think. Nick’s working in f*cking Netto, and next minute he’s f*cking in the NME, playing Glastonbury and Reading and all that. It’s a lot to take in I think, it’s a lot for people to cope with, and I couldn’t cope.”
“How many times did you dream about playing Glastonbury, or Reading or Leeds?” says Nick. “And you do it, and basically you get thrown on like cattle, and told to get off otherwise you get fined, and it was just like f*cking hell, I thought it’d be a lot different to this.
“People off their heads trying to mug you, and people all over you and trying to be your friend and that backstage and it’s just horrible. There’s loads of hangers on and basically I’m scared of all that and that’s why I want this to be like a little project, but it’s just developed its own kind of mind, and it’s going a lot bigger than what I anticipated.”
These wilderness years in the studio haven’t done Hiem any harm at all. The songs are finely crafted gems, electronica with a human heart, but balls of steel.
“The thing about us and what we do, it’s never been a dance thing,” says Bozz. “We write songs, and a lot of bands don’t tend to write songs, it’s like rips, and just loop it round, and it builds and it dies and it builds. But we’re writing songs.”
“We’re both coming from a band background, with guitars and drums,” says Nick, “so we’ve just carried it going through electronic music really.”
Some of those raving about the music lump it in with the 80s revivalist scene, which is a very simplistic way of seeing Hiem’s music.
“I think we sound more like a 70s band than we do an 80s band,” says Bozz. “People who actually get what we’re trying to do understand exactly where we’re coming from actually know what we’re trying to do. I suppose some people hear it and think we sound like the 80s, which is a bit silly really.”
‘The Hiem EP’ will be released sometime in the near future, and they play their live debut at All Things Electric on the 20th June (“We just want to excite people,” says Nick. “We want to make that difference in them, you know.”). They’ll be augmented by a full live band, that includes Nick’s Venini colleague and Human League live member Nikki Trash. So does the future belong to Hiem?
“Plans wise, we just write our music and we haven’t got a sort of future vision as such,” says Nick. “We’re very style conscious, we know how we want to be perceived, we’ve got how we want to be style-wise. But we’re not bothered where it takes us, we just know what we are now.
“As long as we’re making music in 5, 10 years time and we’re getting respect for it…I’m not a Champagne Charlie really.”
“We just do what we do I suppose,” says Bozz. “We don’t want to take over the f*cking world.”
“We’re just confident about what we do,” agrees Nick.
“It would be great to do Top of the Pops, and do all that sort of thing, though” says Bozz. “I think we learnt so much from what we did, it’s frightening but we know how to deal with it now.“
“The thing is we haven’t told you everything,” says Bozz as L2SB are leaving. “cos you didn’t bring your Scotch egg this has all been contrived. This is the ‘don’t bring fit girls and Scotch eggs’ interview. You would have had everything then. Ian Anderson and Roger Daltry would have been coming in, Nick Mason from Pink Floyd…”
Older and wiser, Bozz and Nick are ready to come back with some finely-crafted slabs of electronic goodness. The Hiem party is about to start. Hold onto your hats… and don’t forget your Scotch egg.