Combining an ambient atmosphere and a unique instrument, Hang Massive rose to prominence with their 2011 song ‘Once Again’ which garnered over forty million views and brought the Hang into the public conscience. The duo of Markus and Danny continue to grow, exploring new territory with an instrument that only came into existence in the year 2000.
An instrument like no other, the Hang was created after years of research and study of the steelpan and other percussive instruments by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer. It creates a warmer and softer tone than something like a steelpan, and the otherworldly look of this flying saucer shaped instrument reflects the ambient soundscapes that can be created when it is in the right hands.
Nerve got the chance to speak to Hang Massive, where all things hang was discussed, as well as what it’s like to perform and see people interact with their songs.
The hang is a really strange instrument; what drew you to it?
We both came across the instrument when it was still very new. At that time, it was quite easy to buy the instruments directly from the makers. We were lucky to have discovered the instrument when we did.
Did you two play any other instruments before the hang?
Danny: I played the clarinet, saxophone and the didgeridoo.
Markus: I grew up with a very musical family and was surrounded by various instruments from a young age. I was playing some percussion before playing the hang.
How did you two meet up?
We met in Goa, India where we have both lived during the winter months for many years. There is a great scene there as people come from all over the world to spend the winter. The traveler scene is fused with the local scene to create an amazing vibe.
What is your songwriting process?
Our music tends to arise very spontaneously. We don’t really have any fixed process.
Did the Once Again video going viral change your lives and, if so, how?
Before the Once Again video we were both already very committed to our project and we were spending many months a year travelling and playing music in the streets. With the viral spread of that video and all that came about from there, we realised that our project had great long-term potential within the context of the music industry. We saw that there were people from all over the world that were connecting with our music and our vibe. We started learning as much as we could about the industry and how to optimise our offerings so that we could carry on as a successful band. We have a long-term plan which is unfolding beautifully, and each year things continue to grow and evolve which is fantastic.
You combine a lot of dance and synth elements to your songs with different collaborators. What’s it like to work with people like J Rokka on collaborative tracks?
We love working on collaborations. We both love various genres of electronic music and that has always influenced the style of the music that we make. It is always great fun to bring the amazing sound of the hang and handpan into a different setting and find ways to fuse that together with various styles of production. We will soon release a new collaborative album with our friend and producer Bleecker.
How does it feel when you see people dancing to your songs?
On the most recent tour, most of the venues that we played were for a standing crowd and the new show has some great beats and bass which were made specifically for these environments. It is great to see people dancing or not dancing but enjoying the show in whatever way they feel.
Finally, are you working on a new album?
We have recently started the process of working on a new album. It’s in the early stages and I would imagine having a release date sometime around the summer of 2020.
Playing throughout the UK in November and with a European tour afterwards, those interested in Hang Massive have plenty to look forward. The duo are currently working on a new album hopefully to be released in the summer of 2020.