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System 7's Steve Hillage- Justin Timberlake Sounds F**king Awesome

Author: Jonty Skrufff
Monday, 16 June 2003
"I bought the Justin Timberlake record recently and sometimes I'm tempted to sample it to eliminate the vocal and just listen to the groove. As a sound that's today's sound; it's modern pop music and speaking as a record producer, I think it's brilliant. I also remember his N*Synch track that preceded it, called Girlfriend, which was also really good. I bought that one too."

While some might expect trance/ techno pioneer Steve Hillage not to have even heard of the American manufactured karaoke king, in fact, he remains a keen listener of Kiss FM, following musical development avidly as they happen. Not that he has any plans to radically shake up his highly rated outfit.

"Speaking as System 7, me and Miquette (his long term music and life partner) are very conscious that we have our own musical personality and our own sound," says Steve.

"I'd still really describe our music as ambient techno, which for me implies trance. We like house music too and we like to be in that spot where house, techno and ambient all meet up."

Steve's chatting on a Morrocan cafe on Golbourne Road, West London, to discuss the re-mastering of all four original System 7 albums; Point 3: Water, Point 3: Fire, Golden Section and 777, all of which are out now on his own label A Wave.

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): "You've just re-issued the first four System 7 albums in remastered versions, what does the process actually involve-

System 7: "CD mastering techniques have improved amazingly in the last few years, particularly in America. If you listen to stuff by the Neptunes or Timbaland for example, their stuff is amazingly loud. I discovered this a few years ago, so we basically took the originals and used today's studio techniques. They're not that different. The biggest change is on the 777 album, that's gone up about 6db (decibels)."

Skrufff: Last time we chatted you mentioned your passion for R&B, what do you make of the Justin Timberlake phenomenon-

System 7: "He sounds fucking awesome. I bought the record and sometimes I'm tempted to sample to eliminate the vocal and just listen to the groove. As a sound that's today's sound, it's modern pop music. Speaking as a record producer, it's brilliant. I also remember that N*Synch track that preceded it, called Girlfriend, which was also really good. I bought that one too."

Skrufff: Are you tempted to make music along those lines yourself-

System 7: "It wouldn't really be us. I might use it as a model for production if I felt it was appropriate for another artist, but speaking as System 7, we're very conscious that we have our own musical personality and our own sound. I don't think we can ever be accused of skipping around following trends."

Skrufff: Trance has peaked, troughed though still not disappeared, how do you view the term-

System 7: "It depends what type of trance you mean, there are so many different varieties. I tend to steer clear of the word because it's a bit toxic. I'd still really describe our music as ambient techno, which for me implies trance. We like house music too and we like to be in that spot where house, techno and ambient all meet up."

Skrufff: Am I right in thinking you're playing one of the closing sets at Glastonbury this year-

System 7: "It's been a little complicated, we're playing on the Avalon stage this year, whereas for the last two years we were closing a second dance stage called The Glade. I actually helped to set up the very first dance tent at Glastonbury, the main one in 1995. Many people wanted it to happen and I was chosen because people thought I had Michael Eavis' ear, from my connections with him in the seventies."

Skrufff: Glastonbury now has its huge fence now, which appears to have finally stopped gatecrashers, what do you make of the event nowadays-

System 7: "It is how it is, if they hadn't had the new fence there wouldn't be any festival at all. Last year was noticeably<
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