Category Archives: paul hartnoll

Belfast and the Other one

It’s been a while. I’ve been on holiday . Back now. Not much to say about recent events, I’ve managed to take August off. Only managed it once before in the last 25 years. Played Solfest. that was great fun, loved it. Little gig , massive PA , great crowd.

Two more gigs to go for the time being , them I’m busy with some different work.

So I’m going retro on this blog . Along side my video diary’s that I’ve been going through I wanted to listen to all my old 4 track recordings and unreleased dat material. Start sharing that too. I’ve just got my 4 track fixed so while I was setting up some gear in the studio for the next run of work , I’ve been going through some of the old tapes. One thing I was pleased to find was the original version of Belfast. I thought it was lost forever.

I’ve been trying to remember exactly when I recorded it. It comes from the era between my first ever release on the house sound of London under the name ‘ds building contractors’ and buying our first orbital D.A.T. after getting a proper record deal with Pete Tong at FFRR. I know it was recorded after chime because the track on the tape before it is a more typical house track that has elements of chime and Belfast in it. I”ve given that one to you too incase you want to listen to the one’s that never made it as well as the origins of the ones that did. Anyway I’ve always thought of them as a pair.

I think it was probably winter 89-90 and in the months between Jazzy M putting out chime on Oh-Zone and its release on FFRR. Because it was influenced by the wave of ambient house spearheaded by the Orb and their A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld (EP).that came out early 90 I belive. It must have been then as chime was out and the orbital name was already launched because the simple truth  is I wouldn’t have called Orbital Orbital if id seen the Orb first, that would have been mad right? Far too confusing having orbital , orbit and the orb around at the same time. Funnily enough someone asked me if Id written Little fluffy clouds , just the other day at Solfest. That’s been happening for 25 years. I wonder if Alex Paterson gets asked if he wrote chime?

Anyway so there I was just finished an early shift at Pizza Piazza in Sevenoaks.  I decided to make an ambient song , it was a rainy melancholy mid-week kind of afternoon. I got the chords first and just went from there. Got it all in place as a drumless ambient piece, but I just couldn’t resist the call of the 909 drum machine. So in went the drums. Much better! So what you hear here is the Jam I did on a rainy afternoon, after work and before catching up with my friends for the evening. At the time I remember thinking, it was ok but I wasn’t over impressed. This was all recorded in my parents living room in the stairs alcove studio, that all the early stuff was written in, up to and including the first green album. the other one would have been recorded around the same time , probably a day or so before.

So Months latter after the success of chime in march 90 , I got a call from David Holmes, DJ , club runner and hair dresser from Belfast . Would orbital like to play at the art college in Belfast? Yes! So after the gig, in Davids Mum’s house’s spare bedroom David asked if we had any demo’s. I gave him a tape with both tracks on. Two week later David rings up and tells me that him and his friends all love the second track on the tape . We called it Belfast after the brilliant time we had there. So the track was named after, and dedicated to, David and all his friends.

Where is the vocal?

Well, when we were making the orbital ep III , we decided to put a version of Belfast on it , while I was re-recording it with all the lovely new gear we had bought from the record deal Phil was making at birthing tape for the imminent arrival of his second child. So he was at my Dad’s hi fi with the head phones on , while I was at the computer and sampler playing through the track . He popped the head phones off and said listen to this, it sound brilliant. So he turned the speakers up and hey presto! Hildegard of Bingen ‘o euchari’ burst through,in tune, in time, Job done!

I met up with David this May , he’d just won the Ivor Novello for best film score for 71. We were in the pub afterwards and he spoke about our trip to Belfast and the tape and how much it all meant to him and his mates at the time. I asked him if he still had it , as I thought it was the only one and had been quite curious to hear the other track. But alas , he said he had no idea where it went. So imagine how pleased I was when i discovered the original recording on Wednesday as I was setting up and listening to the old tapes and realised I’d only give him a copy , not the original after all. Here it is, all those years later. the Original Belfast and the other one.

what’s in a name?

Well now, to the more observant , you may have noticed the name on all my social media has changed from 8:58 to Paul Hartnoll ( orbital ). I thought I’d have a little chat about that then.

I recently lost the use of my brand name Orbital , and had to think up a new one , which was fun as I picked one that had a lot of meaning to me . Nice. But having traded under Orbital for 25 years you, and the people you work with, are always going to want to let people know who you were . So all posters and adds for gigs , even stickers on the album have four bits of info. The logo, 8:58 , Paul Hartnoll and ( orbital ) . But having chosen a name that’s not too search engine friendly :- eight five eight, eight fifty-eight, eight hundred and fifty-eight, 8:58, 858 ,  2 minutes to nine, you get the idea, coupled with the desire to let people know who you are. Well, it’s all got a bit messy really .

Starting again like this with the 8:58 name has been a big learning curve, but lets get one thing straight here , I’m not talking about the music , cover , logo , ideas behind it . That I’m happy with , it’s an artistic choice that I stand behind.  However, on a purely business side , the 8;58 name may not have been the best idea!

Doing music that you like is one thing , but getting it out there to people can be trickier. I read an article by Caitlin Moran recently about dealing with depression, she was saying that she used a technique where she saw herself as a small friendly dog inside here head that needed looking after, needed kindness and exercise as a way of being good to herself, it resonated with me about how I view the business end of what I do . I’ve found that I think of it as a sailing galleon heading out from Southampton towards the new world, I’m steering the thing and I’m heading somewhere, I’m not too sure what’s there, but I know where it is, most of the time. I find that I have to make adjustments along  the way to Keep heading towards this mythical place. What I’ve found most important though, is that as soon as you know somethings not right you need to readjust as quickly as possible before you go too far off course and loose you way altogether. So with that in mind I’m steering this ship back on course ( for the meantime anyway ) And changing the name 8:58 back to Paul Hartnoll (with obligatory ( orbital ) of course ). Nothing against 8:58 it’s still the name of the album and the concept is still close to my heart but I’m just changing the name I go out as back to Paul Hartnoll . I’m keeping the logo, which has 8:58 written all over its face, but I feel I need to switch to simplify everything and help keep on course. As my wife Louise always says to me, ‘Keep it simple’.

One of the last straws in this decision is the amount of orbital fans and even friends that ask me what I’m up to now , when will there be a new record. When I tell them it’s out there they often look at me funny and say ‘oh I didn’t know, I searched on spotify for Paul Hartnoll and didn’t see it’. I then have to go throughout he whole , oh no it’s under the name 8:58 to which they usually look puzzled and say ‘why?’.

Don’t fight it Paul! Is what I’m saying to myself, anything that helps get it out to the right folks is good for me.It feels like the right thing to do at the moment so I’m going with it.

It’s funny as it doesn’t make any difference to the hard copy of the album as it’s always had a sticker in the corner that says:- ‘the new album from Paul Hartnoll of Orbital’ . Quite clear really isn’t it? It’s been staring me in the face from day one!

So that’s the current situation sorted , here’s the past…

So on to the next video,I had just got back from Australia and an illegal warehouse rave on new years eve 91/92 in Sydney ( I do have film of that too ) and we were asked to play at a 2000ad 15 years anniversary  party and charity event for great Ormond st . How could we resist that! I had been a long time fan of 2000ad comic, so off we set in a hired van , a little crew of friends fromSevenoaks, me and Phil, with Mike who ended up doing our driving and tour managing, not that we though of it like that then, Sally our good friend who went on to be a Photographer of choice for the early rave generation via the magazine , Volume.  Heres a little summery of the night with a good live version of fahrenheit 303 and crime.

Until the camera falls over anyway.

oh , and i’m starting the you tube channel again too , as when i started this I’d bumbled into a google auto channel by mistake, when i thought i was doing it on my 8:58 one (the one thats now become  Paul Hartnoll (orbital ) ) so all future uploads will be on this one below. if you subscribed to the other one please just subscribe to this instead. sorry for this minor course adjustment, and any confusion.

One place to put everything, one name to put it under. Keep it simple.

it’s not me , it’s you.

Heres a funny bit of film I found, it’s me remixing ‘it’s you’ for EMF in my parents house in time-lapse. A typical working day back then , lots of talking on the phone ( pre mobile ) and mates popping in and out all the time. I like the time lapse-sound as you can hear the development of the mix and the different elements that I’m working on as the day progresses.  This film and the halcyon one are both from the Dunton Green era of Orbital, I may stick to this chronology for a bit as I’ve found some good stuff from the Fun-Da-Mental tour of Amsterdam and Holland.

Heres the final mix:-

the start of the films

I’ve decided to start uploading short videos from my home recording archive. I always carried a video camera around with me for most of the time with orbital. I’ve been looking back at it recently and there is some remarkable stuff there.i look through it now and again and it grows better with age. Real time capsule stuff. It documents the path of orbital but also the rise and development of the rave scene in general. It covers all sorts from unreleased songs played live to time-lapse days in the studio to scenes of people , quite frankly, off their heads after a big night out. I have loads of footage from the first ewer orbital tour of the states with the fabulous meat beat manifesto and ultramarine . I keep putting it off as I never know where to start but I’ve decided to just go ahead and start any way , it might make sense eventually but I doubt it.

First one is ‘the making of Halcyon ‘

It’s some of the video I shot while cutting the original 12″  with Kevin Metcalf. Also some behind the scenes shots of the video shoot at my Mum and Dads house in Dunton green. You can see the lacquer being cut on the lathe and hear it going down, if you own one of these 12″ then that’s the mother of it right there! It was the first time we had seem the mastering oscilloscope , that was the inspiration for our live show for years to come. check out the glass bottom sink we got made via the blacksmith at the other end of the village ( that’s how old this is! so last century. ) It was such a home-made video but shot by  Seamus McGarvey who went on too much bigger things (google him ) so looks fantastic still.

Anyway have a look at this one , more to come soon.

not so striking

So ok, the isle of wight wasn’t so good. I’ve been lucky , so far with the first three gigs , starting over in my life after orbital.

Played on a nice big stage , the crew were great , the set up great , the sound system really good . Couldn’t have asked for more . Started 30 minutes before Fleetwood mac finished who had sucked up the entire population of the festival like a tsunami, taking all the water before it throws it back. So I knew the first part would be a bit of a warm up , no matter , we were expecting a flood of people when Fleetwood mac had finished. So half way in I could see the crowds beginning to come passed as the rest of the festival began to shut up shop for the night. I was hoping to bring them in for a last dance before bedtime with the nicely placed stage just back from the main drag. But alas, they came and kept coming and went and kept going ! No interest at all . I hurried through one of my new songs to get to Halcyon, surly that would bring in a few old ravers! But no . I had got some more folks in , it went from aground 20 people at the start to around 100 , if I’m being generous and accounting for the odd person spinning around by the speaker out of my line of sight but not a good turn out for a 3000 capacity stage. So I played to the crowd I had and was very appreciative of the 100 or so folks there especially the two guys right in front, around my age, and the two younger guys to my right who wooped and cheered thorough out, while one of them nudged, pointed and knowingly whispered to his friend throughout.

If your quick you may have noticed that I said whispered, well he was able to whisper too, as unknown to me , at 10:30 there was serious noise restriction put on to the stage( I came on at 10:35 ) When I finished I saw Chris , my manager, who looked white as a sheet, and not too happy, I thought he was going to commiserate me on the tiny crowd, but no , he just told me how quiet the whole thing was and how they had been battling with the council noise police to get it turned up . The sound man had done so at one point, only to be told off a couple of minutes later,and had to turn it back down again . apparently you could hear the 80’s disco tent over the other side of the drag louder than our stage at the front of house position. So I think that may have had something to do with not getting any of the passing trade in.

It’s a shame, as performance wise it felt like a good one, and Fable who had come along to sing cemetery did a great job too.

Now, don’t get me wrong , I do appreciate the lack of people isn’t all to do with the sound. They may not have come over even if it were blisteringly loud anyway. No one really knows what I’m up to at the moment , the old orbital fans have no real idea that 8:58 is my way of continuing with orbital. To be fair I went with that name as a creative/ artistic choice , to get some sort of new beginning and clean start with something that had a bit of meaning to me, but I’ve probably shot my self in the foot. It probably should have just been the album title. It’s really a bigger thing than I anticipated , loosing your brand. In seems like it means a lot more to people than I thought. Maybe I should have just stuck with Paul Hartnoll, but where’s the magic or smoke and mirrors in that? Maybe Paul Orbital like William Orbit or Jamie xx? How about 0rb1tal or Orbita11 like deadmau5? All be tall, ‘or beetle’, Orbit-all? I could go on…

I guess the brand name’s a seal of approval , a guarantee of quality , a no brainer. Where as starting again means proving yourself to your old customers that your still here doing your thing. I don’t blame them, we are a suspicious bunch us humans and I know I’ve done it too. Theres really not many people who’ve done better starting again after a successful band, Peter Gabriel maybe? Wings? It s a long haul for sure.

So four gigs in, it’s three to one for good v bad , I like those odds . But this hill, to win back the orbital fans ,might be a steeper climb than I first thought. I doubt it’s possible to get them all but hopefully I can get some new one’s along the way too.

After twenty five years of nearly guaranteed crowds, not always mind, orbital did some real shite ones in our day as well, I don’t think any one gets away with it totally. But after twenty five years, I’m ashamed to admit , it’s still a surprise when it happens , because you go in with the thoughts of full capacity ,loud sound and a cracking gig every time. Why wouldn’t you? You always hope for the best. And in the past,I’ve quite often got it.


Don’t get me wrong , playing the Albert hall is fantastic and all , it’s a totally mad experience but it is quite intense and full of responsibility . It feels like a grown up job. So many people, such an amazing room. You really don’t want to fuck it up for everyone.

But when you turn up at a bowling alley that looks like no ones there for you let alone to dance, you know you’ve got a different set of rules going on. You going to have to do some pretty hefty sonic convincing.

The reality was by the time Adamski did his great set all in waltz time the crowd were picking up and it had started to feel more like a club. it was great to see him in action again.

When I got on stage and checked through all my bits and looked up to see what we had , there was a great happy crowd of people who had come from all over the building penning me into my corner of the room, no way out now.

So I got cracking and kept my head down at first, this was only my second gig with this set. After the first two tracks , when id got into the flow, I remembered to look up and caught someone’s eye in the front row, we both grinned and I looked around at everyone else, we were all in it together from there on in . It was a proper game of cat and mouse,total interaction between performer and crowd. Very intimate. So by the time I finished up with chime, it felt like we’d shared a real moment. And to top it off , no back stage so I just walked off the front chatting and laughing with the crowd and got handed a nice pint of beer. The people there were great.

So no, nothing wrong with the big gigs, I love playing Brixton academy, I love having the big production and video to mesmerise and astound the audience with, but when you do a little gig like that it does ground you to the fact that its all about the music and the moment really. Although we did have a tiny fake laser at the bowling alley that I became quite attached too by the end of the gig. My one solitary lighting friend.

Off to the isle of wight tomorrow, thats going to be fun. biggest one yet for this incarnation of Paul.

Just me , chris, my manager, Fable and her manager Andy.In Chris’s car . Both Chris and Andy will help out but no back line tech tomorrow, I’m doing it myself , first time since the early 90’s! How lucky have I been.

I’ll let you know how it goes, and I haven’t forgotten to tell you about ‘the gig where everything went so wrong, then went so right’ I still shudder when I think about that hour before the show.

and again

ok. I’ll start again.

I’ve started this so many times and scraped it for various reasons. Getting what your thinking out there isn’t as easy as it sounds. I just need to get this first post done with. I’ve thought about it too much.

So anyway,I thought I’d start blogging because so many unusual things have been happening this year. For example I should be sorting out some sort of backup for my gig at the isle of white festival this sunday but instead I’m on the train, off to De Beauvoir town in Hackney to watch Jonathan Price dance all day , in a community hall, to the first tango I’ve ever written, for a film by my mate Luke Losey. Brilliant!

By the way, just incase you don’t know, Jonathan Price plays Sam Lowery in the Terry Gilliam film ‘Brazil’ that inspired me to give up work and aim for a life in music.

I had a crap job in an office  where my Mum used to work , she saw the film and recommended it to me , so I watched it one night and cried throughout the second half . Gave up my job two weeks later and went to art college . That’s one of the things you did if you wanted to be in a band back then. If you do nothing else today , go and watch brazil.

But it has been a mad year and, over the next while, I’m going to tell you about it as well as what’s currently happen as we go along.

I think I want to talk about how I’ve started again. I’ve gone from wielding the massive machine that was orbital , from selling out the Albert hall and playing with Stephen Hawkins at the Paralympics opening ceremony to returning to the very beginning again and playing in a bowling alley while people still bowl. Playing in the street in Brighton under a small tent type covering, 40 minutes late at ‘the gig where everything went so wrong, then went so right’( I’ll tell you about that later).

Gone are the tour busses, trucks full of synths and lights and video walls, no more tour managers , lighting designers, front of house sound engineers , stage managers , caterers, merchandise sellers and last but not least, no more riders.Its now just me, an occasional back line tech and two and a half suitcases of gear. And do you know what? The bowling alley was far more fun than the Albert hall.

I think I’ll leave it there for now, my first entry, wasn’t so bad. So much I want to say but I just needed to get something going , get it started. Again.

There I’ve done it now, no going back…