Rogue Frequency: Dave Hayden on Irish Electronic Scene, Building Modulars, and Side Project FracTAL

Updated: Jan 14, 2019

Dave Hayden aka Rogue Frequency/FracTAL © Dave Hayden

Dave Hayden aka Rogue Frequency is a name you have probably come to know through great imprints such as New Flesh Records or Fundamental Bass Intelligence, even perhaps through his side Techno project FracTAL, where he has performed alongside artists like Dave Clarke and Helena Hauff.

A die-hard lover of Electronic Music since the 90's, he has been on a quest since to leave his own mark on the history of Electro and Techno music with a sound that is both familiar, and yet somehow pleasantly strange to us, inviting the listener in with a profoundly mysterious, somehow alluring style that pushes the envelope with tenacity and soul crushing emotive vibes that cut right through you.

Here in this interview, Dave Hayden talks about how he got into Electronic Music, what the Irish Electronic scene is like, his new passion for modular systems, and recent performances under his alias FracTAL. Let's get on with it!

Santino Fernandez: Welcome Dave! Thanks for all you do musically for the scene. I am honored to have been able to work with you in the past, and to get to do this interview with you this time around. Let’s begin. Where did you grow up, how did you find your way into music, particularly Electronic?

Dave Hayden: Hay Santino, likewise! I'm from Dublin, Ireland, and became fascinated by Electronic Music in the early 90’s after seeing an ITN news report on raves that where taking place in England. Soon after my cousin told me he DJ'ed on a pirate radio station, and he sorted me out with a few mix tapes of recordings from raves in England & Ireland…It was just a natural progression from there.

Sounds very similar to how I began, that earlier part of the 90's was very exciting! How would you describe the Electronic Music scene in Ireland, is it fairly big? What about Electro specifically over the years, has it come and gone somewhat you think?

The Electronic Music scene in Ireland is very healthy indeed. I started clubbing as soon as I turned 18 and that was back in 1997. There was lots of great nights to go to, the Mean Fiddler and the Temple Bar Music were great spots for Hard Techno. I miss those days.

I think the present day Ireland still retains a healthy club scene, there are quite a few promoters running nights, catering for lots of different styles of Electronic Music. Electro has never been a massive scene in Ireland, of course there are a lot of people into it as well as producing it.

I'm not actually sure if Electro has come and gone. It’s been around for many years mostly lurking in the shadow of Techno, but I kinda like that, not too popular but popular enough where a monthly Electro night in Dublin will defo work out. I remember a few months back there was a lot of folk talking about how Electro has come back into fashion, perhaps that's true, but for me personally it's been a massive love of mine ever since I bought my first Electro record in the late 90’s.

Me too, it's certainly been a labor of love for most of us. Electro may never come into fashion as the biggest trend, but it is heartwarming to see how far it has come already...very eclectic and sophisticated scene!

So do you remember the first piece of hardware you acquired?

My first piece of hardware was a PC with Cubasis AV & Rebirth 338 demo version. I'd sample drum loops and single beats from Rebirth and sequence them into Cubasis AV, then record it with a tape recorder with the mic input pushed up against the PC speaker. Of course the recordings where crap, and in one recording you could hear my Da telling me to get over here and dry the dishes haha. In 2002 I bought a Roland MC-307 Groovebox, I love this machine and I used it in my latest release on Shipwrec.

Nice! I just recently acquired the MC-303, love it! Those old school grooveboxes sound really good, many timeless hits recorded with them.

Modular rig amongst some other goodies... :) © Dave Hayden

Let's talk about your musical process over the years and how it has evolved. I know as of late modular has become a big deal to you. Can you talk about that a little for us?

Ah the modular, yes! It’s just a really good mono synth that can be programmed in realtime as the beats are playing. I researched a lot before I bought anything, read up on the different manufacturers, the different modules and just basic modular stuff. My machine is mostly analogue and it’s quite basic. A few years ago a guy called Paddy told me if I'm ever gonna get into modular synthesis, to keep it simple and that’s what I did.

I've a hi end VCO & VCF, then the rest of the modules are budget Doepfer stuff. I also have some Hexienverter stuff, I use it for basslines and weird shit, and I'll keep adding to it as the years go by.

Where do you personally hope to see this whole hardware evolution end up? Is it rather trendy you think, or exactly what we needed to get the music industry back on track?

I'd just love to keep seeing hardware development evolve like it has been ever since the first synth. The more it evolves the more the music evolves.

"You won't find the time to hone your skills, you need to make the time to hone your skills."

For the newcomers, what would you recommend as to how to get started with music and what to look for? What will take for someone to truly begin to “make it” out there?

Hmm, everybody is different and we're all comfortable working in different ways ie. hardware/software. The basic tools for music production are monitors and a DAW, it’s that simple!

If you wanna go down the hardware route, there are so many options and it can be overwhelming, but for me a groovebox can be a good first choice. They're packed full of synth sounds and drums, great for a beginner and the more experienced.

To truly make it as a producer you need to be totally dedicated to your craft, you won't find the time to hone your skills, you need to make the time to hone your skills. That can be very difficult if you have a full time job and have a family to look after, but like everything hard work and endless hours in the studio will payoff at some stage. Just keep at it, and at it, and at it etc….

I agree, ultimately it truly is about hard work paying off. With that, let’s talk about your new projects. FracTAL in particular has been getting a ton of attention lately, but there is also Anti Lunatic Squad with Analog Bipolar Boy. Can you talk about those a little?

After my 2nd release with New Flesh I had a musical mental breakdown, I think most serious producers will know what I mean. I ended up hating most of my releases, hating myself, and couldn't think straight at all. This went on for quite a while until I decided to get a grip. FracTAL was my answer.

I needed to reinvent myself as a producer and wanted to take my sound to the stage, so I came up with the alias FracTAL and built a modular synth. Suddenly things where fresh and the ideas came flooding back into my head. FracTAL is just another outlet for me allowing me to explore a new range of musical ideas, non-Electro ideas, and more of a Techno sound with a splash of Acid. My debut FracTAL release came with 3TH from Berlin, on their "The Throbbing City" release, and my debut FracTAL 12” EP was released on the fantastic Belgium Acid label Kromatones, headed by Nico Verdievel.

Anti Lunatic Squad is a project by myself, and my mate Colin AKA Analogue Bipolar Boy from London. We met after he released his 12” EP "Into Darkness" on New Flesh, I was NF17 and he was NF18, and the music brought us together, in particular my track Projectile!!

We spoke about releasing an EP for a while, originally we wanted to do all the tracks as collaborations, but we also had a few original tracks of our own, so we did a split EP instead, and released it on 12” with Dutch label Shipwrec. We are about to start work on our next ALS EP, this one will be 4 collaborations, dancefloor orientated, and full of madness. Im very excited about this!

Setup for one of the live shows © Dave Hayden

You have been performing quite a bit lately, primarily as FracTAL, with names such as Dave Clarke, Defekt, and Helena Hauff, at events like the Circles Tour in Dublin this past July. What has been the response to the music from your perspective. Has the time really come for Electro perhaps?

The live set part of my FracTAL project did indeed start to happen, I practiced my improvised live set with my modular & TR-808 everyday for 2 years before I got anywhere near a club. My debut live set happened in a great Dublin club called District 8 with top promoter Ro Flynn.

I can only remember small bits of the set...all the bad bits haha. The more hardware you have, the more problems you have…fact! From the second I pressed play I realized something was wrong for this set. I needed my 3 core VCOs to be all tuned to E...I'm not sure how they ended up totally out of tune, and when I pressed play it sounded like a Donkey haha. The feeling of dread is quite uncomfortable, but we're on our own up there and when you have a problem, you're the only one that can sort it. Lesson learned!!

I was also booked for two more gigs in the following weeks (Index, Lepton), but before they happened I had an accident at work which left me with a broken middle finger and shattered index finger, which put a stop to my live stuff for a while. Strange that the next club I was supposed to play in was called Index…weird!!

But the response from my perspective was good, I'll always see the bad before the good, and that’s what makes me want to improve and highlights where my flaws are. But I've had a few promoters inquire about me doing more live sets and I'll be back. I've no doubt 2019 will be a good year for gigs & releases!

Any new material coming? What can we expect from your projects over the coming months?

Yes, I will have new stuff coming out in the new year with all 3 of my projects, but my main focus is live sets. Bringing my sound to the stage is my no.1 priority, lets see what happens!

Good luck Dave, keep up the hard work. Thanks for taking the time for this! Can't wait to hear more.