Over the past few years Scottish duo Clouds have become a household name in the world of techno. Together Liam Robertson and Calum Macleod as ‘Clouds’ have held a relentless approach to the genre where they have unapologetically shown their hardcore influence and raw fast paced approach to production.
The duo’s ventures have led them to their collaborative imprint with Randomer with ‘Headstrong’, major international residencies and a massive output of releases on some of the most forward thinking labels in electronic music.
Ahead of their show this Friday hosted by Subject x Techno & Cans in the Wigwam basement, Four Four contributor Mark Davis has sat down with them to discuss their influences, approach to music, upcoming projects and much more.
Thank you both for taking the time to answer a few questions here with me today! First of all, I’d love to ask what differentiates the project of ‘Clouds’ and your music output from the more typical techno sounds we hear?
I’m not really sure we’re the best people to answer that. I think a lot of the time we’re actually trying to write fairly typical techno music. Any mutations that occur must stem from who we are as people, for better or worse.
The sheer amount of material released over the last two years helped me a lot during the lockdowns and proves yourselves to be formidable producers. Could I ask where the motivation comes from to consistently create such perfectly carved music?
Glad to hear it! We became a lot more productive when we started playing only Clouds music in our DJ sets. Basically we’d rather be making music than searching for music, or curating playlists.
Can you tell me about the hardcore and gabber influence heard in Clouds productions and where that stems from?
We grew up listening to a lot of Makina, UK Hardcore, Hard Dance, whatever… For a long time we kind of shunned the idea of using those influences when writing techno, something about those scenes always seemed to be demonised by whichever tastemakers were deciding techno tastes at the time. As new, young musicians in the techno world we figured it would be best not to upset them, until about 5 or 6 years ago when we started Headstrong.
Congratulations on the release of ‘Exploration Of You’! Could I ask how the link up with Casual Gabberz came about which led to you releasing on their label multiple times?
Thanks! We’d been fans of the label since its inception, and we’d invited Paul to play at a party we were curating. At some point we had some music which was a little too heavy for our usual outlets, so we sent it to them and they put it out, that was Until We Come. Now we have a guy wondering around France wearing only a balaclava and some gloves so it’s our duty to at least get him dressed up nice and warm.
How did the ‘Headstrong’ project with Randomer start?
Rohan played the first Headstrong party in Glasgow, around 2014. He became a resident after that, and then when Calum moved to Berlin and the parties in Glasgow finished we started the label to continue pushing the Hardcore Techno sound.
Do you feel like releasing on the likes of Randomer’s and your own‘Headstrong’ and Casual Gabberz gives you a chance to be more free with expressing a hardcore influence through your production?
Following on, Liam, can I ask why the alias of ‘Hamilton Scalpel’ came about? Plus are there any other aliases you are both working on in the background?
Calum and I both make a lot of different styles of music and I had finished up some bits and felt the tracks were alright but not so much as a Clouds record so sent them to some friends who Mark Maxwell (Mother) and Al White (DJ Crud) who were setting up their label Concrete Cabin at the time by chance and the rest is history init.
Yeah as I mentioned we make a lot of stuff in spare time so there’s music out there under different names from both of us together and solo.
When I think of Scotland.. I just think of the most forward thinking artists in Electronic Music, too many to name! What do you think it is in the culture shaping such amazing producers over there?
Nothing else to do man.
Ahead of your show in wigwam, its clear that you’ve developed a longstanding relationship with Ireland! How do Irish ravers fare to others and what’s your favourite thing about Ireland?
Irish ravers are very similar to Scottish ravers. Maybe because of the shitty licensing laws means theres a lot of energy to kill in a small amount of time.A very vocal bunch which is fantastic when trying new material out.
Favourite thing probably the chicken fillet rolls.
Any hints on what’s next for you both?
We’ve finished a bunch of music so have an EP and some remixes coming out towards the end of the year.
Planning on heading along to Clouds this Friday night in Wigwam? You can pick up tickets here.