JOSH HANG: GETTING THE HANG OF IT
The odds of meeting an electronic music producer at a local country music media event are very slim indeed, but that is exactly where I first got to meet Maltese producer Josh Hang. After a quick introduction – long enough for him to give me a brief rundown of what he’s up to and to exchange our contact details – I wasted no time in looking him up on the internet. The search led me to Hang’s Soundcloud page and the handful of experimental tracks that this twentysomething producer has uploaded so far.
The tracks on offer, five in all, are abstract pieces; intricate synthesized creations built of sounds and glitches which, apart from projecting a variety of moods, suggest that Hang’s musical spectrum is not restricted to a particular style. On the contrary, his exploration of sound yields some interesting pieces, stretching from the subtly manipulated il piano (which serves as an intro of sorts), via the ambient noise of Bazu through to the more defined rhythmic structures that follow on Kloud 9 (Part 1), Naih and Exhale, the latter possibly the most accessible track of the lot.
The fascination with music has been there from an early age, Hang maintains. “Like most people, I was first exposed to pop, but the genres that I’m really passionate about and that I find truly inspiring are electronic and classical music”. At 18, he got his first taste of being a DJ, watching his friends work the decks and learning from them to eventually step in alongside them and play his own sets. “Being a DJ was a lot of fun, but I realized I needed to have a deeper connection with sound, to be more closely involved in the music”.
To do this he took up the piano and the guitar. “I started taking piano lessons with Julian Dyson and guitar lessons with Jonathan Ellul”. There’s a lot to learn, this he admits, but he is also very determined. “I’m pleased with the progress of my knowledge of music theory and my playing skills. Both are important as I believe that one needs a good foundation”. To complement this, he also enrolled for an online course in music production. “I decide to enroll in Dubspot’s online facility, and it was certainly the right step for me to take”, he continues. “Of course one needs to be committed to succeed, but the people I worked with are passionate about what they do, which obviously made it easier for me”.
The end result can be heard on the five tracks available on Hang’s Soundcloud page but, he adds, “I’m currently putting the finishing touches to more tracks which should be out by the summer, and there are some new twists in what I’ve been working on”. Asked if there’s anything else besides the new productions in the pipeline, he nods with a smile. “There always is – possibly a live event and some collaborations with foreign artists too, but I promise you’ll be the first to know when the time comes”.
INTERVIEW WITH JOSH HANG
Who are the artists you find most inspiring?
Well, there are a lot of them and each one has inspired me in a different way, but I’d say that Wagner and Dave Clarke are at the top end of the list. I'm also inspired by local artists…Deep Funk, Tribali, Ira Losco and Joseph Calleja, to name a few…
What led you to take up DJing?
I suppose I was drawn to it by a friend of mine who is into the Techno scene. He also helped me refine my skills on the turntables. I don’t DJ much these days but I still love it…in fact, thinking about it, I really miss it. What do you make of the way the local dance scene has evolved?I think the dance scene in Malta just keeps getting bigger. More artists are putting their soul into their music, which is something I really admire.
Having taken up piano and guitar this past year, how has this impacted on your original productions?
I wanted to get more acquainted with the fundamentals of music; to be able to know music more thoroughly through playing an instrument. I feel it is important to help you achieve what you want. It’s not only a skill, it empowers you, and of course, I enjoy playing both piano and guitar now.
Looking back on what you’ve done so far, what do you feel about being part of the music scene?
I feel I’m lucky that I have the opportunity to be part of the music community, and to learn what makes music music, but it's more than just learning theory. It’s like looking at a structure in the distance that needs time to grow and refine itself. You take as much as you put into it, which helps to keep a balance, a flow in place, but I suppose that’s not only in music, but life in general. I really am in love with music and I feel very moved and inspired by certain sounds. I hope the sonic textures I create can have a similar effect on others.
Click here to go to Josh Hang's Soundcloud page
An edited version of this article was published on The Sunday Times of Malta (27 April 2014)