One of the more enjoyable YouTube trends to have emerged over the years (i.e., the distortion of various pop stars’ vocals) has revealed that a slowed-down Kylie Minogue sounds like George Michael and a sped-up Matt Bellamy resembles Gwen Stefani. Swiss-born, Canadian-based producer Cyril Hahn, however, has taken the whole pitch-shifting trick one step further by forging an entire career out of contorting several iconic voices beyond all recognition.
Indeed, after his warped takes on several Billboard chart-toppers were discovered by the likes of Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac and Major Lazer producer Diplo, the twenty-something has suddenly found himself on the same PMR label as Quiet Storm revivalist Jessie Ware and post-garage siblings Disclosure.
However, Cyril Hahn wasn’t always interested in producing the kind of slowed-down electro-R&B that his friends have coined ‘make-out music.’ A fan of hardcore punk as a teenager, he then moved onto the post-rock drones of Explosions In The Sky and Mogwai before Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy inspired him to begin writing his own folk songs on the banjo.
Hahn has revealed that he wants his own material to take centre stage in the future, but for now, his remixes remain his unique selling point, particularly his fondness for transforming female R&B divas into Antony & The Johnsons-style male crooners.
Never is this more startling than on Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name,” which is transformed from its staccato R&B origins into a moody slice of slow-motion house, and Mariah Carey’s “Touch My Body,” which turns the throwaway sex jam into the kind of ghostly and achingly sad ballad that the likes of Drake and The Weeknd would kill for.
Hahn also strikes a similar balance of cleverly entertaining and slightly disorientating on his low-key Italo house reworking of Solange’s “Losing You” and techno-fuzz treatment of Haim’s “Don’t Save Me,” suggesting that if Cyril Hahn can create similarly hypnotic results with his own material, then 2013 is his for the taking.