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RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW AMERICAN ARTIST HYPER LION 

Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

I think in some way music restructured my brain. How I problem solve, how I pick things apart, there’s always an underlying rhythm or a soundscape. It’s hard to explain. There’s always a metronome or a melody. There’s never silence in my head. It’s inherent and inescapable. Also, it’s the only thing I’m good at. 

Introduce us to you and your musical history.

I’m one half of the production duo Paris Opera House. We formed after playing in bands for many years. My solo work as Hyper Lion is an extension of that. Whenever I write something I can usually tell pretty quickly if it’s an idea for the band or for myself. The weird stuff tends to stay with me. That’s why my band is more successful than I am. 

The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?

Very well considering I’m still an amateur. Maybe semi-pro at a stretch. Solo and with Pariis Opera House I’ve had music used in films, adverts, video games, on TV, been supported by BBC 6Music, done remixes for Island Records. Loads of really cool stuff I’m very proud of. I’m about one five-millionth as rich as I’d like to be though.

How have your songwriting skills developed over time?

I’ve always been embarrassed about writing lyrics, so I used to stick funny lines in to undercut them, and if anyone ever asked me about the words I could then say “they’re just a joke!”  Then I got super boring and serious about it, now I’ve swung back the other way. I don’t consider myself a lyricist, I write words that fit the music. They’re not confessional or autobiographical or anything. Only recently I decided I better put more effort into them and make them actually mean something. Musically I’ve always known what I’m doing, but over the years I’ve definitely got better at self-editing and knowing what to take out of arrangements. I still struggle with quantity vs. quality though. 

I‘m seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?

Fathers, hug your sons. Guys should probably take a class called “not every girl will like you and that’s okay”. Either that or we normalise having sex with inanimate objects just to release the pressure valve somewhat. Also, avoid anyone who refers to them as “females”. 

As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?

Sadly the only time people have really heard my music is when it has been used on a big platform. So my tip really is to work hard on getting your writing/mixing/production up to a professional standard. SoundCloud demos are cool, but they’ll never be broadcast. Alternatively, you just need rich, well-connected parents. 

Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.

I am terrible with numbers and suck at reading comprehension.

What’s your thought on Spotify’s monopoly on the music industry?

At this stage, I honestly don’t think they have a monopoly. There are a million streaming services. The conversation, I guess, is about artist remuneration, which is hard. It can’t be a sliding scale where everyone gets £1 per stream or someone like me would get £100 per year while one of the big guys would earn billions. Same if you just take the royalty pot and split it between everyone. There’s no equity or equality. I could see it being a bracket system where smaller artists get a higher rate and bigger artists get a smaller one, just to close the gap a little. Sure, if a big artist gets more streams they deserve more money, but they have the advantage of a record label and don’t pay out of pocket for their promo and distribution. Ed Sheeran is fine earning pennies per stream, but it doesn’t really help me in any way. How can I afford equipment or mastering costs? It means music is not self-sustaining to anyone other than established acts. 



Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?

No, I am not brain-dead. I like to invent them, though. Did you know the reason parental figures die in every Disney film is to brainwash kids into seeing Disney as a surrogate parent? Think about it. 

Did you buy anything you don’t need during the pandemic?

Not that I didn’t need per se, but more that I’m too lazy to use. There’s a tube of grout that’s been sitting unopened in my garage for a year. 

What was the worst experience on stage?

I performed a solo acoustic set to a room of classical musicians who spent 15 minutes glaring at me with their arms crossed. Scarred me for life. I take solace that the only work they probably get is as session musicians to pop and rock artists, so I feel I ultimately won. 

Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about.

Until 2011 I had never pushed the buttons in an elevator. 

What makes you stand out as a band/artist?

All my records have their own identities. I don’t like repeating myself too much, so every release is a reaction to the last. There’s no giant audience with any expectations so I can pretty much do what I want. You never know what you’re going to get. Also, I present myself as an 8-bit lion avatar, which is super quirky and fun!!!!!!!!111!!1!1!!!

I hear you have a new album, what can you tell us about it?

It’s called ‘Koinkidink’. It’s a baffling blend of experimentalism, jazz, electronica, rock, pop, garage…it’s a beautiful mess. 

Talk me through the thought process of the new tunes. 

I’d wanted to make a record like this for a while. The idea was that the impetus for every track came from a place of randomness or chance. Something I couldn’t control. I used random number generators and sometimes literally just smashed my hand down on the keyboard and recorded the results. Once that first idea was established I’d build the rest of the parts up using the same principle, whilst slowly editing and refining it into something you might actually want to listen to. 

What was the recording process like?

Long! The first ideas were recorded in 2019, around the same time as my ambient album ‘Submariner 2’. Then I started properly in lockdown and bashed out about 30 bits of music in 2-3 months, which I got sick of and didn’t look at again until about 18 months later when I realised it was all really good stuff which I’ve been tinkering with until now. 

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?

Sometimes less is more, and sometimes more is more. Sometimes even the most horrible sound can be re-contextualised into something wonderful. Don’t be afraid to be weird!

Would you change anything now it’s finished?

I keep finding myself questioning if I should have made it more accessible, but that would suck all the life and identity from it. It’s an odd little thing but I like it. 

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