Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: Hello to everyone out there in cyberspace! Fire away with your questions.
awallis: You’ve toured Australia both as part of Orbital and as a solo artist. What are your memories from past tours? Tell us about the good and the bad!
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: All we did was the NYE show back in 1990 in Sydney – a warehouse party. That was the only time we ever played! We threatened to come on the BDO but we never quite made it. Not because we didn’t want to, but because we were in the studio. January was always studio time… which was always quite boring! I’ve been to Australia quite a few times though, and I love it.
Junior: Do you get tired of people asking you about Orbital?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: No haha! Not really, it’s part of my history isn’t it? It’s inevitable, if you know what I mean.
awallis: What has Paul been up to since your guys called it a day as Orbital?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: he’s writing an album at the moment, and looking after his kids.
Junior: Does the obsessive nature of some Orbital fans ever freak you out a bit, or is it all par for the course?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: I think the thing that freaked me out the most was some people who had Orbital tattoos. It was scary, not that I freaked out, but I just hope that they didn’t want to get them removed if we did a bad album or something!
awallis: You’ve had your music used in movies and video games. Would you ever consider doing an entire soundtrack for a film or game?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: We’ve done one for a movie called Octane. It wasn’t a very good movie, it didn’t really do that well! Went straight to video almost. The script looked good when we agreed to it though. Yeah, I’d definitely consider doing it again if the opportunity came up.
awallis: What do you think of the current state of dance music in the UK?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: In the UK I play a lot of breaks when I DJ, and I hang out in places that play breaks – so I’m loving it. I feel that the breaks scene is very similar to what acid house was. It’s a mixed crowd, and you can go there and have a good dance and really enjoy yourself, all surrounded by happy people. I can’t really comment on the scene overall, but everywhere I go I really enjoy myself.
cutpaste: Was Glastonbury your favourite festival to play at in the 90s?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: Yeah! It is one of my favourite festivals whether I’m playing at it or not. It’s very special to me, and to a lot of people.
Funkedub: I’d like to know the story behind the selection of the Belinda Carlisle and Bon Jovi tunes in the live version on Halcyon?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: Belinda Carlisle came first – this is a bit of a story. We were sitting in a cafe writing Halcyon and that tune came on the radio, it just clicked and we both looked at each other. For a bit of fun we did the drop live, then somebody told us that Belinda Carlisle and Bon Jovi took each other to court for copying each other, so we thought we’d try it with Bon Jovi in there and it fit as well. In recent years we had The Darkness ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ too. Three of them blaring their mouths off!
cutpaste: I read that David Gray is your brother in-law. I guess that would explain him featuring on vocals with you guys before. What do you think of his music? Be as honest as you like haha!
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: I love David Gray! Obviously before he ‘made it’ I used to go and see him a lot and support him. I love what he does.
mr shay: Where do you stand on the vinyl vs CDs debate?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: I love vinyl, but CDs are much more convenient!
cutpaste: Ok, so the million dollar question you’ve probably been asked a hundred times already… why did you and Paul decide to put an end to Orbital?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: There’s many reasons really. My brother didn’t want to tour anymore, he had twins on the way and wanted to focus on them. Another reason was we felt we had gotten into a pattern and needed to kick ourselves up the ass. You get set in your ways otherwise. As soon as my brother said he wanted to break the studio/touring cycle, we just decided to call it a day and go off and do our own thing. It has been a great challenge.
mr shay: Minimal techno seems to be all the rage right now – what’s your opinion on it, do you think it’s such popular because people like to take ketamine, or does it have its own merits?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: I like it! It’s quite interesting, if it’s the same kind of stuff I’m thinking of… But of course, too much of a good thing can get boring.
Junior: You’ve been working on your own solo material, what sort of sound and style are you taking with it?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: I’m working with a few people at the moment. With Nick Smith – who is more of a sound designer – we’re going under the name Long Range. We just finished the album before I came over here. It’s a bit like Orbital in a way, in that there’s a mix of sounds, some ambient, some full on, some vocals. It’s hard to define the sound – obviously it’s electronic, and there’s some guitars and live drums. It has a bit more continuity amongst it than Orbital had. We’ve got a myspace site if you want to hear some tracks, just tap in ‘long range music’ on myspace.
immature: Do you think that you’ll ever get bored of dance music?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: Haha, I don’t think I’ll ever get bored with electronic music.
Funkedub: When I first encountered Orbital there was no distinction between trance and techno and prog … do you feel as the crystalising of these as separate genres in more recent years has benefited the music or stifled it?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: New genres coming up benefits everything – like drum & bass, jungle, glitch, breakbeat. I look at it as one big electronic tree, all the way back from the 60s and 70s really!
Junior: Is it hard to move out of the shadow of being in such a successful group to be considered as a solo artist in your own right?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: No, I’m not really doing a solo artist thing, I’ve formed a new band. I don’t think it’s every going to be Orbital, the new band is another thing though. The success is really down to the audience and whether people like it. It’s a different time completely now.
mr shay: Do you use Abelton in your studio? Do you use it when playing in clubs? If not, would you consider it?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: I use it when I DJ, which is quite a recent thing really. But I don’t use it in the studio. I’ll use it when playing live.
cutpaste: Do you and Paul being brothers made working together easier, or harder?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: I don’t really know! It’s hard to say, because he’s always been my brother. It’s not a question I can answer! I know what it’s like now not to work with him, but I think being brothers you both start at a higher level of intimacy – because you know each other better.
mr shay: By the time you and Paul finished up as Orbital, were there any tracks in particular you were sick to death of playing or hearing?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: I can’t say…... I would feel guilty afterwards! All of our tracks have been good to us.
Funkedub: You would’ve had the opportunity to play at some amazing gigs… what would you say the most special were?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: Glastonbury and the Albert Hall in London.
awallis: Who really does it for you at the moment, DJ wise and also as a producer?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: There’s so many… I love people like Plump DJs, Rennie Pilgrem, Lee Coombs, Adam Freeland. It’s hard to choose though, because they’re mates!
Funkedub: What artist or labels are you really getting into at the moment?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: Nah, no particular labels.
bombayboy: Any plans to play live in your current incarnations at all?
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: Me and Nick huddle around the computer doing the Abelton thing, we’ve got a live singer, Will White from the Propellorheads doing live drums, a girl playing live violin, a guy on keyboards, and possibly a guy playing guitar. It will be like a mash up of your traditional band really. The first gig is a festival in the UK called The Big Chill. That’s the next thing I have to focus on really.
Phil Hartnoll – Orbital: Thank you all for the questions! I’m looking forward to playing Sydney and Byron, would be great to see you there. It’s a regret of mine that we never got back here as Orbital, it was just never to be for one reason or another. If the Long Range thing kicks off hopefully we’ll be able to get it out here! Thanks for all your support over the years.