Manchester, UK – Aspen, US
HYDRAFUNK is a collaboration between Immigrant Records label owner Robin Porter and analogue synth scholar Mike Carr. The two met in the mid 90’s when Robin visited Southern California to discover more about the country he’d developed a love affair with as a teenager. Armed with a bag of vinyl and a design portfolio his goal was to DJ, become a renowned music producer and eventually launch his own record label – his impromptu holiday to America would last a decade. Robin grew up in Manchester, a city with rich and historic musical culture and he relished the hedonistic Haçienda club and the UK’s outdoor rave scene. Starting life as a Hip-Hop and Electro DJ, he flirted with Hip-House for a few bars before discovering the intoxicating affect of electronic music which conveyed the emotion so important to his creative being. During these experimental days, both behind the decks and on the dance floor, he was able to escape, dream and come to understand the tribal mentality and power of electronic music culture – learning what made people dance until the early hours and reach that euphoric moment that would change them forever.
In stark contrast, Mike was a Southern Californian native who could only watch this European phenomenon unfold from afar, so he looked closer to home for inspiration. He studied the house music sound championed by the warehouse and loft DJ’s of Chicago and New York and the darker, more experimental techno sound emerging from Detroit. He had spent his formative musical years learning piano but was more passionate about synthesis and producing electronic music, spending most of his time holed up in a studio experimenting with analogue synths, samplers and drum machines. Unfortunately, Mike lacked the vehicle to release his productions to the world.
The pair quickly recognized the contrast in their individual backgrounds but found synergy in their musical taste, quickly discovering they shared a penchant for the melancholy industrial sounds synonymous with Manchester bands, DJ’s and producers, the syncopated native funk of Detroit, the shuffled house of Chicago and the computerized rhythms crossing the Atlantic from Germany and Belgium. Mike became a specialist at crafting emotive synth leads and creating complex layers of enigmatic harmony using an array of hardware, whilst Robin handled track arrangement and sound engineering, ensuring every track contained the vital ingredients of soul, energy and emotion. They had found a synchronicity and equilibrium in their working methods that fused both analogue and digital technology to capture the mood of the struggling working class. Their music transcended status, race, nationality, age or gender in celebration of diverse music culture; an ethos and creative direction Robin has pursued since the birth of Immigrant Records.
They first collaborated in 2002 releasing the ‘Mental Stealth EP’ on Immigrant Records, featuring the bass line heavy ‘Fathernature’, a track that Evil’ Eddie Richard’s picked up for his Fabric 16 mix CD and a timeless track that still destroys dance-floors today. Unfortunately, the duo never finished another music project together until now. 20 years later, Mike resides in an undisclosed location in Colorado surrounded by rugged snow capped mountains and Robin has made it back to Manchester to run Immigrant and operate his creative agency, Proper. When he reached out to Mike to suggest the pair had some unfinished business to handle, it didn’t take much arm twisting for Mike to break out his classic collection of vintage gear and start banging out sounds and patterns that still epitomize their trademark sound.
From the wilderness to the inner city, the experimental to the trained, the analogue to digital and the studio to dance floor…the juxtaposition that initially bound them remains their driving force. According to ancient Greek mythology the HYDRA was a giant serpentine monster with numerous regenerative heads, the power of immortality and the protector of the entrance to the underworld. HYDRAFUNK has now emerged from the depths and has a story to tell. Beware the Beasts From Below.