Interview with Steven Hawley of Codebreaker

This week we caught up with long-time Blisspop friend, Steven Hawley to discuss his relationship with Bliss and the creative process of writing Codebreaker’s latest album, The Space Chase.

1. Please discuss your relationship with Bliss/Blisspop – how your friendship with Will Eastman began, etc.

Well, I’ve had the pleasure of both DJing & playing with the live band for Blisspop. Will & I have a somewhat lengthy history…he’s actually the first promoter/DJ I was aware of to play Codebreaker. I stumbled across Bliss online and sent Will our first album at the time. He dug it and was surprised to learn that we were both Wisconsinites. Will’s one of those rare promoters who actually listens to artists he’s never heard of before & makes his own mind up on what’s good, not just what’s popular or what has big budgets &/or hype behind it. Prob because he’s an artist with a grassroots DIY perspective.

2. When did Codebreaker come together and how has your creative relationship with Sage grown since?

Sage & I have been going for almost 6 years now. I’m a very forward thinking person…i don’t like comfort zones, challenging myself as a writer, artist, person. Our writing process is very far out, but pragmatic. It doesn’t matter how long one of us has been working on an idea, if it’s not up to Codebreaker standard it’s out, fini, done & we move on till we find the pocket. Our thinking is very cinematic, and in epic proportion. We have no shame sticking our flag in the ground & bein like, “yep, we’re gonna take it THERE motherfucker”.

3. Electronic music feat. heavy disco overtones has had a growing popularity in D.C. – especially due to artists like Classixx/Andy Butler/Grum/The Magician touring the area – do you find the same thing happening in the Midwest?

Well that’s good to hear. There’s no denying that the subcultural American landscape for disco inspired music has gotten a lot better over the last few years. Hopefully, it will keep translating to broader acceptance of QUALITY dance music overall.

4. Who/what was your biggest influence in writing this album (aside from the obvious French house/Italo disco sound)?

A lot of movies & books. Primarily 70’s-80’s science fiction & thrillers & instrumental soundtracks. It’s amazing how many subtle, subconscious nuances from past influences come to surface when writing new material though. I guess I grew tired of the usual pop arrangement stuff and felt compelled to get more linear and let the vibe and rhythms ride & take you places. Classic french house/french touch stuff has really influenced us here..but we’ve sort of fused it with our American funk & soul influences to create something really unique I think. Rob from Faze Action reviewed the record by saying,

If this current run of disco popularity is to continue & move forward then there needs to be also some commercially successful records or at least records that address a wider audience. This is such a record

I think that’s pretty spot on really. Half of our fans are dance music connoisseurs & the other half wouldn’t consider themselves house music fans at all. I didn’t grow up on house music. I mostly came up on new wave & r&b influenced artists. Sage comes out of more funk & dub backgrounds. We’re both kinda blue eyed soul guys really. We have temperamental attention spans on dance music, which we’re always mindful of during our writing process. The communication of music should feel somewhat mystical, magical…I think we’ve managed to harness a lot of that on the new album. Jesus I hope that all makes sense.

5. Back in December you released ‘Silver Lining’ featuring remixes from The Outrunners (Valerie Collective) and Chicago house legend, Joe Smooth – can you give us a heads up on any forthcoming EP releases/collaborations?

Well working with a legend like Joe Smooth was a real honor & pleasure.  His work just oozes soul. The Outrunners were my favorite thing to arise out of the whole french Valerie movement, really exciting, timeless stuff those guys. As for the rest, let’s just say there are A LOT of remixes being worked on right now…one of them involving Will actually. We’re humbled to working with so many brilliant people.

6. Can we look forward to a live tour in the near future?
Absolutely! Lots of touring this spring/summer in support of The Space Chase. We’re getting all sorted for SXSW in a few weeks. Keep an eye on our websites for the tour dates! Also, some new music videos that should be out soon! Right now we’re focused on sharing The Space Chase adventure with the world.

Codebreaker – The Space Chase is now available for download via iTunes, Beatport, Juno & Amazon.

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