Interview: Orbital’s Paul Hartnoll Talks Decibel Fest & More

We catch up with veteran EDM champions Orbital before their headlining Decibel performance in Seattle

Johnny Firecloudby Johnny Firecloud


With a revitalized artistic flourish via their new album Wonky, electro-dance legends Orbital are taking over Seattle this week as headliners for the hotly-anticipated Decibel Festival. The annual festival is a four-day event with audio clinics, panel discussions, film, art installations and dozens of electronic music performances, taking place on September 26-30 across the gorgeous Pacific Northwestern city (more info here). Of course, CraveOnline will be on hand to document the full-throttle electronica overload!

As a highlight act at this year's Decibel Festival, Orbital joins an incredible line-up of the best electronic talent from around the world including the DJ Shadow, MiMOSA, Tycho, Shpongle, Cannabinoids feat. Erykah Badu, Carl Craig 69 Live, Kimbra, Matthew Dear, John Talabot, and many more. CraveOnline will be on hand, bringing you full festival coverage of the landmark EDM experience. Check out the full lineup here.

In addition to hooking you up with the chance to win tickets to Orbital's hotly-anticipated set on Thursday, Sept. 27 at the Paramount Theater, we caught up with Orbital's Paul Hartnoll to discuss the upcoming festival, as well as the duo's groundbreaking performance with Stephen Hawking at this year's Paralympics, the key to artistic longevity and more. 

What draws you to Decibel this year? 

We've heard about this festival on the promoters of big fan of great lineups are really looking forward to playing.

Are you able to watch other acts when you're playing a festival? Are there any you're hoping to catch at Decibel?

Yes I always try to watch other bands at festivals, in fact is one of the things I really love about festivals getting to see a random selection of other music which I find is always influential

Do you feel more in your element at a fest where there's a wide span of genres and artists, or is there a live kinship in the electronica medium?

I don't mind really with festivals. I suppose if I had to pick I'd prefer a wide variety as my musical tastes span lots of different genres and styles, although at electronic festivals I get to check out other peoples gear.

You've said that you don't make music for people do dance to, but rather that your aim is to move people emotionally. In the creative process, how do you begin to translate emotion into sound? Or does the sound find an emotional designation of its own as it comes together?

Basically I start playing music and if it moves me emotionally then it's in and I keep it. if it's not really affecting me emotionally then it's out it's that simple. Easy really ! In theory…

You've got a more live-band kind of feel, where the BPMs are all over the place, and you can improvise the construction of the songs in a live setting. How much do you change your set mid-show based on audience feedback?

The songs tend to be played in pretty much the same way over all but it really does depend on how the audience react as to how we lengthen and shorten tracks and build them up. To make it interesting I through in the odd curve ball to see what happens , always worth a. Try! 

You debuted "Where Is It Going?" at the Paralympics, alongside Stephen Hawking – what was the most memorable part of the experience for you?

The whole of the Paralympics event was special really, it was amazing  to work with Prof Stephen Hawkin.

How did the arrangement with Hawking come to be?

It was the para Olympics opening ceremony creative teams decision to ask us  to write music underneath Stephen Hawkins speech but we decided to make him sing ! 

With eight years between albums, the climate has undoubtedly changed in the industry. How does that fare for electronica/EDM acts trying to establish longevity these days?

I think if you want to achieve longevity nowadays with record sales being what they are i.e. nothing really, you need to establish yourself as a good live act with passion and energy. 

Keep up with Orbital at their official site.