Change Up is the first collaboration between electronica producer Hiatus – real name Cyrus Shahrad – and Matt Falloon, singer of breaking UK soul band Smoke Feathers, but it’s a record more than fifteen years in the making.
The pair met as English students at university, where they legitimised a reluctance to attend lectures by forming a band, Holy Smoke, which also featured Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor on guitar.
After graduation, Matt and Cyrus went their separate ways. Falloon moved to Guyana in South America and later Kingston Jamaica, working as a crime reporter and spending his spare time writing songs saturated with the reggae sounds that surrounded him – songs he eventually channelled into Smoke Feathers, the band he formed on his return to the UK.
Meanwhile Cyrus moved to London and began dividing his time between journalism and music production, in 2005 embarking on a three-month trip to Iran during which he collected many of the samples that would later inform his work as Hiatus.
In 2010 he released his debut album Ghost Notes, which spawned two singles – Middle Eastern love lament Save Yourself and Insurrection, a track marking the 30th anniversary of the Brixton riots and featuring vocals by dub legend Linton Kwesi Johnson. A subsequent collaboration with folk singer Shura, Fortune’s Fool, turned Hiatus from an emerging star of the electronic underground into a producer with the potential to turn heads and break hearts around the world.
With Change Up – for which Hiatus wrote music and lyrics – that’s a promise he comes one step closer to fulfilling, creating an uplifting ode to the ability of every person to change their life for the better at any given moment. Matt Falloon contributes lyrics to the spiritual, reggae-inflected B-side Book Of Prayer, while Cyrus pens Flickering, a psychedelic paean to the power of the past.
Fifteen years in the making, it’s a collaboration that was well worth the wait.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Flickering (feat. Smoke Feathers)