Karl Hyde, the voice and the songwriter behind the London based group
Underworld. The quality that has made Underworld so distinct on the
British dance-music scene is that, unlike most dance bands, they write
their own lyrics. For them words are no less important than tunes.
In 1996, the group became internationally recognized, when their song
Slippy was used as the lead track in Danny Boyle's award-winning
film 'Trainspotting'. Find out from Karl Hyde himself what the song
is about and how the lyrics were written.
Karl, tell us how you write your songs.
These words are first-take a
lot of the time. I fill notebooks with writing, I write every day.
And I'll open up some pages in the notebook and I'll see these things,
these words in front of me - and I go, 'Yeah, OK, this is this,
I want to sing this'. Where do you get the inspiration for your lyrics from, Karl?
For me, there is an inherent beauty in the city. I see the city
as a very very beautiful place. Even the underside of it. There's
a beauty even in the kind of... the forceful presentation of something.
As long as it's meant with no malice or anger or violence, there's
a beauty in its energy. What is 'Born Slippy' - a dream? A dream come true? Or is
it your view of reality?
In the simplest form, it's me walking through the streets of Soho
trying to get back home to Romford in Essex. I was referring
to myself reduced to a piece of meat, due to the fact
that I'd drunk too much. The bigger story is that I'm fascinated
by the kind of snapshots that
one retains when you've had a couple of drinks. These kind of very
precise snapshots one has of
a little piece of street, or of a rubbish bin, or of a tape-recorder...
I'm talking about being like a hoover, hoovering up all the images
and the sounds and the smells of the city. Because after all it's
cities that would inspire me. What exactly does the word 'babe' mean here? Not 'a child',
What I'm referring to there is a kind of a male idea of a stereotype.
This kind of like, 'Ah, babes, oh, she's a real babe' - meaning
a kind of real derogatory term... For a woman, yeah. And that's
not having a go at women. That's
having a go at men. Why did you choose to use the word 'boy' to describe a man
- not 'chap' or 'lad'?
Because I think men are boys. Most of us haven't grown up, you know,
most of us are still struggling with taking responsibility. It's
like, 'I don't want responsibility tonight, tonight I want to lose
control' ... And so, it's boy again. In
the song, the word lager gets repeated 16 times! Did you mean it
to be a 'lager anthem'?
The lyrics are quite ironic. At first it was kind of upsetting that
it was used like a 'lager anthem', which was the antithesis of the
way it was written. It was a piece of irony. But I still believe
that cities are beautiful places and that people are essentially
good and that's what I'm following at the moment. I've done my time,
as far as I'm concerned, underneath the city and I'm looking at
you get all that? Well, here's a chance for you to check if you know
exactly what some of the words and expressions Karl used mean.
is first-take, it means...
you take it
before you take anything else
it unchanged, unedited, the way you first saw or perceived