The target for this months exclusive interview are the highly successful remix duo Manhattan Clique that is responsible for no less than three different remixes of Human League tracks, all equally brilliant. So I caught up with Chris and Phillip to learn more about their work and career, which includes actually being on the road with The Human League!
Interview by Niels Kolling
First a little background. How did you become involved in the music business ending up as highly successful songwriters, remixers and producers?
Philip Larsen: I had been making music in my father's home studio from an early age and then continued producing tunes whilst at University. This led to some small record deals with independent labels, before I had a couple of UK chart hits in the late '90s.
Chris and I met ten years ago and the Manhattan Clique remix partnership began. He was DJing around the UK and had lots of ideas for remixes, so it seemed like it would be a perfect partnership.
We were put forward by Simon (the manager) I think. It's a bit fuzzy
now, but we had probably worked with one of his other artists.
Exactly as you say! It was all there in the first place...it just needed
some extra pump to bring it to the clubs. We always try and stay as
faithful as possible to the original when doing remixes. In the case of
Human League, we really wanted to make sure that we didn't lose any of
All Human League parts are always very well recorded and easy to work
with. The synths sound fantastic isolated, but Phillip's voice is
equally powerful solo'd.
Yes, just the one remix, although we did a dub didn't we?!
Philip Larsen: There are always things you would do differently, when so much time as passed.
In the case of this remix, they would probably be things like changing the kick drums and percussion to something more contemporary. Otherwise, we still play this remix out and it fits into sets really well...the power of the original shines through.
What kind of gear did you use for the remix back in 2003? And what is your set up these days? Is it all virtual synths for you or do you like to "fiddle with the knobs" from time to time?
Philip Larsen: Many things haven't changed, although my trusty-rusty Mackie D8B mixing desk finally gave up the ghost last week. It was the desk we have used for 10 years and I won my Grammy with it, so it will be missed!
Otherwise, we use more soft synths than in
2003, but try and include as much analogue as possible in every remix -
our Moog, Roland Juno and Roland SH-101 particularly.
Chris Smith: The same as (Keep Feeling) Fascination, although being a new song, we could afford to be a little more experimental with the remix!
What did you think of the original version of the song that appeared on the album?
Philip Larsen: We really liked the new material, so it was a shame it didn't see the light of day.
Since Shameless was rumoured to became the second single of the album, were your remix scheduled for release?
We weren't really involved in the release-side of things, so
unfortunately didn't have any input in that.
We really wanted to make it a dancefloor monster. We didn't have parts
as such to make the remix - just chopped up the original to incorporate
those elements in our remix!
It was actually a pitch as an idea of a remix, so was never officially
scheduled for release.
Chris Smith: This is probably in our top 3 Human League tracks. Very progressive for its time and still sounding fresh today. Great live too.
If you could pick any Human league song out of the bands vast back catalogue to remix, which one would you choose?
A brand new one that the band haven't released yet!
Chris Smith: I think we may have answered this already, but yes, that is exactly how we see it. Sometimes, songs need more radical approaches when we remix them, or as on some of our more popular remixes like Katy Perry's Waking Up In Vegas, we just try a different approach as the original is such a good song already.
You are both remixer and producer in your own right. Could you see yourself producing the next Human League album?
Philip Larsen: We'd love to.
And how would you want them to sound?
We'd make them right up to date, but preserve the uniqueness of
everything else they have contributed to the music scene over the years.
Dare, Don't You Want Me (for shaking things up in the music business
even though we never play it anymore!) and Things That Dreams Are Made
It was a pleasure. We got to know the band and spend time with them
which was great. I also watched the show many times...it was great how
they brought those electronic productions to life without losing any of
the energy that had been created in the studio.
The Moog Voyager we bought with Andy Bell and the Theramin we only bring
out on special occasions!
We disagree on this. Philip would like to work with the Pet Shop Boys
and I would rather work with someone more contemporary.
Chris Smith: I think it would be fair to say that we haven't done that, although we did follow the tour bus on the Erasure tour we DJ'd.
You're currently working or your highly anticipated first album as Manhattan Clique. What can people expect from the album and after so many years working with other artists sound, what made you decide to do your own?
Chris Smith: We thought it was time to move on from polishing other peoples masterpieces!
You seem to be a couple of extremely busy guys so future plans for Manhattan Clique?
Chris Smith: To keep going and start planning the second album - that might take a while!
You can hear the Groove Collision TMC Mix of (Keep Feeling) Fascination here
To learn more about Chris and Phillips career and future projects, please check out the below links;