Up in Smoke: Hype Williams and Frieze

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Published October 20, 2010

HYPE WILLIAMS.

When the performative aspect of a band is equally as important as the music, where does one draw the line between performance art and gig? With this infra-slim line in mind, Frieze throws an annual musical event to correspond to its fair. This year’s program included young, fairly experimental, stage-friendly bands, notably East London-born, Berlin-based Hype Williams. The duo, named in a tongue-in-cheek reference to the US music director, played alongside Hercules and Love Affair, as well as Telepathe.

The band’s sound consists of very lo-fi, homegrown recordings incorporating hip-hop and ’80s references—and the persona going along the band is equally as bricolaged as the tracks. Onstage, online, and on film, the band likes to maintain an aura of cut-and-paste mystery: they perform wearing elaborate DIY masks on stage (often made out of aluminium foil), call themselves D. Blunt and Inga Copeland, are practically impossible to catch for an interview. When you do corner them with questions, they respond something totally (or rather, seemingly) unrelated.

This is hardly a surprising choice for Frieze—both members have fine arts degrees and theoretical backgrounds and have been involved in curation, writing, photography, arts. This isn’t their first dabble in the art world either: this summer, the pair took over Hackney-based art space, SPACE, for a two-day residency and debauchery. As Inga Copeland put it in a recent interview, “Our connection to visual arts is less about us and more to do with a missing link between art and music. We’re artists primarily, and music is the medium we’re involved in at the moment due to the tools that are easily available,” adding that “to cut a long story short, art is art, it’s all under the same umbrella.”