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Interview: Pitch Black Tour of Aotearoa

Interview: Pitch Black Tour of Aotearoa

Chris Cudby / Thursday 3rd November, 2022 11:28AM

Reunited following two years of pandemic curveballs, Aotearoa electronic dub pioneers Pitch Black are just about to embark on a long-awaited nationwide tour this month, tearing up dancefloors from Tāmaki Makaurau to Ōtepoti, then will reconvene for a New Years festival set at Rhythm & Alps. Indefatigable live music and studio veterans with fans across the globe, Mike Hodgson and Paddy Free shared their reflections on more than 25 years of making tunes together, insights into the pair's ever-evolving sound and visual setup, the balancing act between spontaneity and predetermination, what party-goers can look forward to from their forthcoming shows, and more...

Pitch Black

Friday 4th November - Hide, Christchurch* [sold out]
Saturday 5th November - Waitati Music Festival, Dunedin
Friday 11th November - The Mothership, Auckland*
Saturday 12th November - Totara Street, Tauranga
Thursday 17th November - Porridge Watson, Whanganui
Friday 18th November - San Fran, Wellington*
Saturday 19th November - The Cabana, Napier*

*Tickets available HERE via UTR
More ticket info over at

Chris Cudby: Hello Mike and Paddy! These last two years have been an absolute rollercoaster ride — what impact did the pandemic have on Pitch Black's own recording and international touring plans?

Pitch Black: It totally stopped us touring for two and a half years. This was challenging because we’ve been going out in both the northern and southern hemisphere at least once a year up until then. It finally feels like the dam is breaking in all the creative / arts industries — and to use an Americanism — we are so here for it…

You've both been working together for more than 25 years, an amazing achievement in itself. How has the process of making music together changed during that time? Are you still based in London Mike?

Mike’s been living back in NZ for the last few months, after living in London for 10 years. A shock to the system for both of us! The technical process of making music has changed unbelievably. The ability to collaborate across the planet was, in the '90s, something only the most well-heeled and successful bands could even conceive of doing. That current ability, and the fact that everybody in the western world is walking around with enough computing power to run an insanely powerful recording studio in their pocket… but, you know, apart from that… it’s still just about the interchange of ideas and the quality of those ideas — same as it ever was… in Mike's and my peculiar dynamic that we have. We have always worked better the same room so it's great to be able to do that again.

You have such a wealth of material to draw upon for your live sets. What can Aotearoa party-goers look forward to from Pitch Black's shows this month? You'll be performing new material on the tour?

For this tour we consciously made the decision to road-test and try out several not completely fully-formed songs. We’re intentionally taking a step back to when we first started and were a predominantly live band, that subsequently made recordings. We have done as much as we can to open up the doors to spontaneity by leaving things intentionally unfinished so that they find their way on the night. We’ll be doing lots of old favourites of course, but we are going to be playing then in new ways… We figure we have enough older stuff well under our belt that we can give people a good night, but we’ve left enough rope to hang ourselves... or soar...

What inspired you to revisit 'Exodus' with your new single feat. Sandy Mill and David Fullwood?

In the early '90s Mike was dub mixing a reggae band from ChCh called Ras Bonte, they were playing Exodus and the whole mix just came alive with the dubs, so he has always wanted to try a more modern digital version of it. As we are gearing up to begin work on another album we decided to try and make this version as a way of getting going again. Mike had met David Fullwood from Ital Horns in London and had helped him record his horn parts while all the recording studios were shut during lockdown so he offered to drop the horns on the version. It's always a joy to have Sandy Mill on one of our tunes, so we were very glad when she said yes to doing the vocals.

Approximately how much of your live sets (sound and visuals) are predetermined, and how much is spur of the moment / improvised? Or is that impossible to quantify at this point?

Our sets are hugely spontaneous: we use Ableton Live and we are making a live 16-channel dub mix, with live keyboard playing over the top. All our songs are broken up into many sections that we can move through at will. We can stay in a particular section and build up the intensity if it’s really working with the punters, or we can get-the-hell-out-of-there if it's not. Our visuals follow the direction of each part of the music — a new section of music triggers an new section of video — plus we have essentially four data-sensors embedded in our mixing desk that listen to certain parts of the mix, which generate control data and mutate the video according to what’s going on sonically. This is our first tour with this new setup and we’re awfully excited **flutters eyelids and fans face**

How did your new Mixes + Mavericks remixes collection come together?

While we were separated by the closed borders we focused on doing remixes for other artists, as these are reasonably easy to do by firing developments to each other till we had a finished song. Towards the end of 2021 with no real end in sight for the overloaded MIQ system ending, we decided to compile these remixes and a few bits from old drives we felt worked. It's essentially Part 2 of Rarities and Remixes.

Which special guests will be joining you on tour?

One thing we wanted to do this time was to have a woman artist on every show, Mike reached out to Paige Julia after being told she had a database of female artists from around the country and she very kindly put us in touch with some that would suit our vibe. Looking forward to having MJ, Nito, Ludus, Dj Sneeky, MissB, The Shady Lady and Disco Pussy playing with us.

We have a couple of special pairings, in Auckland Dylan C and Ed Zuccollo are playing and in Christchurch we have Deep Fried Dub and Alpharhythm jamming together along with a special old school Jungle Set by Pylonz, who has cut a pile of Dubplates from old unreleased tunes.

Which artists are Pitch Black currently enjoying listening to?

We are signed up to piles of artist and label pages on Bandcamp so there is a steady flow of great tunes coming into the in box every week and we use Mixcloud to hunt out interesting mixes while doing the dishes.

Current favourites are Amon Tobin's output on his Nomark label, The raft of releases from On-U Sound, the roll The Bug is on with his ambient releases, the Zam Zam label from Portland , Elijah Minnelli, Mokotron, Azu Tiwaline, Loraine James to name a few.

What projects presently keep you busy outside of Pitch Black?

Paddy is doing a lot of soundtracks for dance and arts projects, with other musician-for-hire and producer-for-hire gigs while Mike has been creating audio work for the Luma Light Festival and is currently overseeing a new design for the Rhythm & Alps Electronic stage.

Pitch Black's fanbase is famously worldwide. Now borders are back open again, what's on the horizon for you both?

A tour to UK and Europe is on the cards for northern summer next year, and hopefully a long overdue trip to Australia early next year.


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Pitch Black
Fri 4th Nov 9:00pm
Hide, Christchurch
Pitch Black
Fri 11th Nov 9:00pm
The Mothership, Auckland
Pitch Black
Fri 18th Nov 8:00pm
San Fran, Wellington
Pitch Black
Sat 19th Nov 8:00pm
The Cabana, Napier