Karl Hyde is one-half of the English electronic dance duo Underworld. But he’s also an installation artist, a painter and a composer. Last year, he collaborated with director Danny Boyle on the music for the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.
Though he’s been making dance music with Underworld for over 25 years, mixing his club beats with fragmented lyrics, Hyde wanted his first solo record to go deeper.
“The idea was to become more personal, to put myself in there,” Hyde says. “I’ve always hidden behind this vast wall of words and so there was a period, real painful period, of trying to find myself.”
Edgeland, the solo debut by Karl Hyde, is out May 7, and it delivers on his pledge to make more personal music. The song “Your Perfume Was the Best Thing” was inspired by a near-death experience he had crossing a London street.
“The lights change, and it says I can cross, and there’s a bus,” Hyde says. “And as I cross, a van comes pounding around the outside of this bus, and doesn’t see the lights. Slams on his brakes, and I just think, well, that’s that, then. And I just let go.”
Moments later, Hyde says, he realized he was still standing on that spot – alive.
“I don’t know what happened. It didn’t hit me,” he says. “I’m there outside the Royal Park and the trees are just radiant in the sunshine … and [it’s as if] someone’s whispering to me, ‘Not now. It’s not your time.’”
Karl Hyde spoke with NPR’s Jacki Lyden. To hear more of their conversation about the making of Edgeland, click the audio link on this page.