“I couldn’t wish for a better outcome” — Enter Shikari talks the creation of ‘The Mindsweep: Hospitalised’

Remixes always have an interesting way of adding a new dimension to songs that longtime fans already have memorized, and to more often than not, breathe new life into a track with a new outside perception. For electronicore quartet Enter Shikari, remixing singles is not at all out of the norm, but releasing a full-length remix album was something that remained somewhat of a pipe dream until now.

Enter The Mindsweep: Hospitalised—a remix album of the group’s fourth studio release The Mindsweep. Through a collaboration between London-based Hospital Records, various producers of the label took each track from The Mindsweep and made it their own by adding a splash of the drum ’n’ bass genre.

Check out Substream’s exclusive interview with vocalist Rou Reynolds below as he discusses the collaborative process of The Mindsweep: Hospitalised, future plans of Enter Shikari and various influences that have continued to keep the band’s sound diverse and unique over the years.

Your new remix album The Mindsweep: Hospitalised is available now. How are you feeling in regards to how the tracks turned out?
So happy, really very content. Hospital Records has been one of my favorite drum ’n’ bass labels for years and years. The whole thing was terrific, I couldn’t wish for a better outcome. I had some of my favorite producers to run it, they’ve all done a great job. It’s quite diverse from the original album seeing it in the drum ’n’ bass genre. It’s lots of different vibes, different sounds.

I was going to ask about some of the producers as well. I know you have some notable collaborators with producers such as Metrik, S.P.Y., Danny Byrd and Keeno. What gravitated you toward those producers in particular?
It’s quite a diverse roster on the Hospital label. I think the first thing that brought me into the Hospital sound, which would have been about eight years ago, I was brought up on some kind of old-school jungle sounds, a lot of rap records, some sort of heavy, dark-orientated stuff. Upon being introduced to Hospital, it was a very different sound, very heavy sample base. It sampled a lot of soul, Motown, things like that. It had a very positive [vibe], brought smiles to your face. You can listen to it on a summer afternoon down the park as well as a rave or whatever. I was really drawn to that, I was just kind of brought up on that, my dad used to DJ and everything. That really struck a chord with me and I’ve been into the label ever since. I think recently now the Hospital sound has really diversified, it’s grown. People like Keeno, and other ones, it’s very classical influence, very orchestral in its sound, a lot of strings. I think that’s really beautiful music, and then you have Danny Byrd whose breaks kind of have that jungle sound, as well as being very playful. It’s just some cool stuff we find inspiring.

It adds a new dimension to the songs I fell in love with on The Mindsweep. It was really interesting to hear their take on it. Could you describe the collaborative process for the tracks? Did you give any of the producers a rough shell of what you wanted to do or is it more laissez faire?
The thing that we were conscious about most was them thinking they didn’t have as much freedom we wanted them to have. We really wanted them to take these tracks. A lot of times with a major drum ’n’ bass labels, [producers try] to get the underground cool remix that they want to keep their form of integrity or whatever. In that respect, you usually get the drum ’n’ bass producer mixing it to do a very bland pop-friendly remix, and we didn’t want that. We really wanted these artists, these producers, to make these tracks their own as if they were remixing one of their peers in drum ’n’ bass. We wanted [the tracks] different and heavy, and that was something we really wanted made clear. Any sort of role we had was getting together with the guys at Hospital and deciding who would remix each track. So me and Rory [Clewlow] our guitarist put up the first list of who we wanted remixing each track. Luckily most of that list was able to come through, most of the artists were able to find the time, some of them were fans of us already which we didn’t realize, which was great as well.

Okay, cool. So was it you and Rory and some of the other bandmates that sat down and said, “I think it would be really cool if this person did a remix of this song” and just broke it up that way?
Yeah, absolutely. One of the best examples is the “Anesthetist” remix one, which is already out, the Reso remix. Reso is one of the sort of darker, more heavy dancehall style drum ’n’ bass style producers. “Anesthetist” being one of the heaviest tracks on the album with that dance style break beat wannabe-esque as well, we just thought it would be a perfect match for Reso so we got him on that. And then people like Keeno’s remix of “One True Colour” has a lot of live strings on it in the chorus and then it’s got that real sort of emotional, suspense-filled buildup at the end and then there’s some sort of orgasmic inclination buildup towards the end and we thought that would be a great track for Keeno. But then Hospital came back with some of their ideas as well. I had Tony [Colman], the guy who runs it who’s on London Elektricity, he hasn’t done a remix in three or four years and we didn’t even put him forward. But Chris Goss, the guy we’ve been working with at Hospital told us he was up for remixing “Dear Future Historians” and it kind of blew us away. It was absolutely a perfect match, the remix is brilliant.

That’s cool, sounds like it was a healthy collaboration on both parties. Is there a particular track on The Mindsweep: Hospitalised that you gravitate toward in particular?
There isn’t really a particular track, I really do love it all. It’s kind of a dream come true for us, as cliche as it sounds that I love all the tracks. The one I’m playing most at the moment, we’re doing a few DJ sets over the coming weeks, and we did a few before we went off on the European tour, and the one that I’ve sort of enjoyed jamming is the Danny Byrd remix of “There’s A Price On Your Head.” I think [Danny] kind of got the short straw with “There’s A Price On Your Head”—it’s that crazy, weird track on our album. It goes through about six different time signatures in the space of a minute. [Laughs.] It’s about as far from dancehall friendly as you can get and he was just able to take that part and make this brilliant drum ’n’ bass track, I think that would be my favorite at the moment.

You actually briefly answered one of my other questions, I was going to ask if you’ve experimented with playing any of these tracks live, sounds like you’ve been getting into it. So my follow-up question to that is how’s the response been from the crowd and everything?
Yeah, we’ve already been DJing them, we’re hopefully in February about to head on one of our biggest headlining tours ever, and I’m hoping to put them—hopefully Reso’s remix, possibly Danny Byrd’s and maybe a few others, just drop them and replicate them live. That will be interesting to go down. We’ve always cut different remixes and slight different versions of our tracks live anyway to keep things stressful if nothing else. [Laughs.] But they always seem to go down live well. That will be really interesting, for now we’ve been DJing them. Everyone seems to be loving them.

I know you’ve always been big on B-sides and remixes, was there always kind of an idea of eventually doing The Mindsweep: Hospitalised, or was it more of an afterthought after you were done recording The Mindsweep?
Yeah, it was very much an afterthought, or what we thought was a pipe dream really. We worked with High Contrast, the hospital artist, on our second album [Common Dreads]. He remixed our track “Wall,” and we had quite a few other remixes done throughout our career as well. I think we always wanted to do a full album other than just a single, and yeah, this is our chance, and when we first spoke about it, it was like, “Oh, It’d be great if…” where it would never really work out. Thankfully the label was really into the idea and a lot of their artists were looking forward to what they were firing out as well, which kind of spurred the whole thing.

Stars kind of aligned for all that and everything seemed to work out, that’s awesome. Something I’ve always been curious about, since you’ve been big on remixes, have any of your previous remixes ever inspired a sound that you wanted to create moving forward, or do they just sit on their own scale?
Well, I’ve done a lot of production aside from Enter Shikari, and I’ve been doing remixes of our tracks and there’s almost something liberating about doing just music or just a remix while having the dancefloor in mind really, the dancefloor or some sort of electronic headphone listening. Where with Enter Shikari, they’re much more vast and wider remixed, we tried to do something creative and out there to when it comes to remixes, it’s a little more focused, and I think sometimes that can be inspiring to you in a remix, to discover sounds that you wouldn’t normally do with Enter Shikari. A lot more electronic and focused, a lot more time breaking it down and experimenting or trying to get a much wider sound. Our remixes definitely inspired a different direction of Enter Shikari. Nero, who did the remix of “Juggernauts” quite a few years back, had a sort of really happy-go-lucky summer vibe to it, but at the same time being quite heavy and quite dancefloor. I remember that being really inspiring.