Byrne began making music at a young age, inspired by his music teacher whom he impressed with his skills of improvisation. Byrne learned the saxophone, joined a local jazz band, and then watched enthusiasm wane as interest in techno and jungle grew. "It completely changed everything we were doing so we started playing live drum & bass under the monikers Hybrid and then Hive," Byrne recalls. It was in Manchester, where he was attending university, that he met other musicians from more traditional backgrounds who were also exploring the stuff on the edge of live electronics, among them fellow Comp-Sci student Kieran Hebden (a.k.a Four Tet), and Jas Shaw and James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco. "We shared music software and recording gear, and used to jam in the basement of our 11-man old Victorian pile on Wilmslow Road," he recalls. "I think this eclectic time has always been a big influence on what I try to do."
His musical career really took off when he met Dean Fletcher (a.k.a Silver) while doing a Hive show. As Accidental Heroes, the pair began collaborating and created what Byrne describes as his first "proper" tune, "YouWithMeNow." There was interest from various labels but the duo signed with Freeform Records and later went on to appear on Virus, Goldie's Metalheadz, and Reinforced before setting up Space Recordings and Science Fiction Records.
Keen to explore, Byrne relocated to Japan and spent months at a time traveling, but struggled with the feeling of disconnect. His father passing in 2008 sparked a craving for stability, and so he dropped drum & bass and took a games design position at Frontier Developments. He went on to produce a slew of other games, including "Lone Survivor," cited as one of the best horror games ever made.
Though he released a couple more tunes on Hospital in 2010 with the late Diane Charlemagne, the Sonic alias has been stagnant for nearly a decade. It's only now that Byrne has reconnected with jungle, fusing the sounds of his youth with the more experimental rhythms and aesthetic of the LA beat scene, in which he had immersed himself while residing on the West Coast.
He's now set for his first release as Sonic in some time, having met Eveson (a.k.a Dead Man’s Chest) through a promoter friend. We're told that the double EP blends techno, footwork, LA bass, hardcore, synth-wave, and drum & bass under a loose jungle techno framework. He's also preparing an album to celebrate 20 years since his first release. "A lot of the tracks are featured in the XLR8R mix, but tweaked for it," he explains.
Byrne's mix is intended as a showcase for who he is in 2019, so it covers a lot of tempos and styles, "but hopefully with a certain essence running through that is true to the Sonic of old, yet with a look to the future," Byrne adds. He opted not to provide a tracklisting: "I'd prefer people to figure it out if I'm honest. I think it helps with the vibe," he says. You can grab the mix below.
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