A Conversation with Underworld: 'Digital in Music is a Necessary Evil'

Underworld's Rick Smith and Karl Hyde rose to prominence in the post-acid house electronic music scene of the '90s by rendering the undulating tones of proggy, tech-house into lush sonic landscapes.

The U.K. group's 1996 track, “Born Slippy (Nuxx),” featured in the film Trainspotting, grabbed a larger audience with its blissful bleeps and bloops. Since then, Underworld has continued to experiment with breakbeats and dubby synth riffs, and has gained a reputation for fluid performances that reject a division between dance music and the live band. For Underworld's latest full-length, Barking, the group collaborated with producers such as Dubfire, Paul Van Dyk, and High Contrast to make its most beatcentric album in some time. In advance of Underworld's headlining set at Live 105's Subsonic Spookfest tomorrow, we got Hyde on the phone to discuss the group's philosophy.

So, how are you? Actually, where are you and when are you?

It's about quarter to 11 [p.m.], I'm at home and and I'm doing fine, thanks. We were just in Japan on tour and we ate at 3 a.m., enjoyed some fantastic restaurants, but what's really inspiring is walking back through a city once the clubs are closed, when the streets are empty, and it's just you and the plants giving off their oxygen. It just feels like you and the city are breathing together.

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