This months exclusive interview isnít strictly about The Human League, but Sheffield band Hiem has all sorts of connections to both Philip Oakey and The Human League, including a rather cool collaboration with the song 2AM that was released a couple of years ago with Oakey on vocals. So I got in touch with Bozzwell from the band to learn more.
Interview by Niels Kolling, pictures by Hiem
First a little background,how did Hiem form?
We formed backstage at Leeds festival in 1999, we had an argument because Nick was eating my scotch eggs, but we got on from then and started writing songs, for a couple of years we just demo'd stuff .
Thereís actually a strong connection between Human League and Hiem since The Human League has 2 former Hiem members in their line up?
Yeh, I guess so, Bob (Barton, drummer) and Nick (Burke, keyboard and guitar) both used to play with us when we did live shows.
How did it come about working with Philip Oakey? As I understand, the track 2AM was already done and youíve played it live, but you decided to re-record it?
Yeah, we just thought it would be perfect for Phil to sing.
Did Oakey chip in with ideas or was it more a case of you wanting him to sing the vocal in a certain way?
No, he just sang the melody as it was, he didnít write any lyrics or anything, heís brilliant to work with and a good laugh too boot :-)
Was the song written with Oakey in mind? Or did you realise he would suit the song when it was recorded?
Yeh, we realised that after weíd demoed it really.
The track featured on your album Escape From Divison Street, can you tell us a bit about what you wanted to achieve with the album?
We just wanted to capture the way we work, with the album, itís quite idiosyncratic with lots of reference points all through it, which if you know your options will stand out like a sore thumb at you .
This actually wasnít the first time youíve worked with Oakey as you were also a part of All Seeing I that did the Single 1st Man In Space back in 1999. How that collaboration came about?
Well Parrot, Dean and Jason asked me to come on board so Phil was already on board.
Oakey is a popular man to work with and has also collaborated with artists like Moroder, Respect, Vic Reeves, Kings Have Long Arms, Alex Gold, Pet Shop Boys and Little Boots. What exactly is it he brings to the table that makes him so wanted?
Itís The Voice, itís so instantly recognisable, it seems to work over most things.
With such a strong connection to The Human League, are you a regular at their excellent live shows?
To be perfectly honest Iíve never seen them live
Are there any future plans to get Philip Oakey to perform the song live with you?
No I donít think so, it would be nice but the single was released last year so
we wouldnít be promoting it now in any way.
For an electro band from Sheffield, is The Human Leagueís career and input in music history an inspiration?
Yes of course, theyíre an inspiration for any electronic or pop artist
Sheffield seems to keep producing great electro bands, what is the secret?
It must be in the water, Iím not so sure in the last five or six years itís all been guitar music thatís come out from Sheffield.
Both yourself and The Human League have been remixed by Justus KŲhncke. Coincidence or is there a strong bond between Sheffield and Cologne?
Well, Justus is a good friend of mine, so thereís a bog connection with Cologne, for Hiem definalty plus the solo Bozzwell album came out on a cologne label Firm, plus Hiem's record label Startalk International is distributed by Kompakt from Cologne and Berlin, thereís a big connection .
Could you see yourself working more closely with Oakey in the future? Perhaps on a Human League release?
I donít know I guess so it depends if we got asked.
Youíre also good friends with I Monster that produced the first new Human League material with the Credo album from 2011. So did you witness the creation of that album first hand?
No I wasnít there at all, and by all accounts from what Iíve been told and read it was mostly done swapping files over the net.
With Credo being The Human Leagues first new material in 10 years I'm curious to know if you've heard it and what you thought of it?
We thought it was a great album, personally I thought Sky was one of The Human Leagues best song in years.
Out of the bands vast back catalogue, can you name your favourite Human League album, single and song?
For me itís got to be Dare and single I really like The Sound of The Crowd
You seem to be a very busy and diverse band, so the future plans for Hiem?
The Escape Division Street album is being re-released this month again through Nang records, it was originally issued via Startalk international two years ago, so for us were working on playing some shows in the summer, and working on our second album whilst working on our record label
You can listen and buy 2AM here
Check out these links to learn more about Hiem's past, present and future;