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Recorder31 Day 20 | Otto Hashmi's New Single POPSTARS

Recorder31 Day 20 | Otto Hashmi's New Single POPSTARS

The Early Music Shop broadly focusses on music from the pre-1800 eras, but we also love to see recorder players innovating and using the instrument in modern and unconventional contexts. Today's Recorder31 video comes from one such artist...

Otto Hashmi is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer from London whose solo work blurs the boundaries between classical and popular music, often with the recorder featuring heavily in his creations.

Otto's new track POPSTARS was released on Friday, the first single from an upcoming EP Music For The End Times. Listen to the track below, and watch the exclusive video below where we ask Otto about his approach to using the recorder in modern, pop and electronic music. Otto's music challenges the role a recorder plays in an ensemble and we think there's relevance and interest to players from all backgrounds. Have a listen!

Stream 'Popstars' here. 

And watch the video here:

A transcript of the video is available at the bottom of this blog page.

Otto’s latest single ‘Popstars’ is out now on all streaming services.

His EP ‘Music for the End Times’ comes out Friday 15th September 2023, and he will be performing an EP release show at the Notting Hill Arts Club, London on Thursday 21st September 2023.


The Sound of Recorder Music!

Each day this month we're highlighting an audio clip of a recorder from our extensive range. As featured in this weekend's Tremendous Tenors offer, here's Moeck's Flauto Rondo Comfort Tenor in Maple, a mellow-toned instrument with handy comfort keys to ease the stretch. Listen to the clips below or follow this link to find out more about this instrument.

Morley Frog Galliard:

Dowland Lachrimae Pavan:





Hey, I’m Otto Hashmi and I’m a musician from London!

Tell us a little bit about your background and the music you make

You know, as a recorder player, I play a lot of early music but also a lot of contemporary music, both classical and pop music. I've worked for pop artists doing everything from playing recorder to doing live sound and music tech – so it's a bit all over the shop. I like to think that all of the experience from these different things comes and complements each other in in ways I normally wouldn't expect.

How would you describe the recorder’s role in your new track?

So my new track ‘Popstars’, which came out on Friday 18th of August, doesn't actually use that much recorder, but where it does use it, it's really quite a key role. Throughout all of my music I think it's really important to have a strong motif and in this track I really emphasise the theme of the chorus by repeating it on the recorder in these different contexts, and actually at the climax of the piece it comes out with that line again on the recorder.

An interesting thing working in a pop context is using 12 tone equal temperament, however this Voice Flute by Jack Darach in A=415 is not in equal temperament. This is in quarter-comma meantone, and not only that but because I'm using it in a modern context it becomes a 440 instrument in C sharp. So it's some very interesting playing which allows for some really cool xenharmonic stuff to happen – and I just love the way that that kind of crunchiness of the tuning interacts with how I sing, which is much closer to equal temperament within this context. So you'll see this uses some interesting fingerings on the instrument.

Every track on the upcoming EP references a different style of dance music, a different dance music culture – and Popstars in a small way is referencing a lot of early US House, UK Garage and this kind of funky sort of dance feel. So whilst you've got this melody going on in the recorder, you have this snare pattern. I was really inspired by , umm… it's the track… it is “Jack Your Body” by… … and I can't remember but it's an early house track [“Jack Your Body” by Steve “Silk” Hurley (1986)].

It's got this thing the Jack Snare, when you've got these tracks and you've just got this snare drum that just hits in between all of the syncopations and – it's so good, and having the crunch of that syncopation then with the crunch of the temperament of this instrument doing the melody with then equal temperament chords underneath; there's so much crunch at that point. It's interesting to hear what other people think of the track, but for me that is my proudest thing about this, when it all comes together and it's just crunch on crunch, rhythmic crunch, harmonic crunch, melodic crunch it's just like *clicks mouth*.

What inspired you to blend recorder and electronics?

What inspired me to blend recorder and electronics?

Within the context of this project, so my EP ‘Music for the End Times’ which comes out on Friday 15th September, there really are two key stories that are being told. There is society's reflection on a kind of uncertain future, and that's really represented through this element of club music culture, the hedonism and the ‘living for the night' idea which is expressed through electronic dance music.

In contrast there is this this element of looking towards the past and antiquity and this thought of where, things have always worked out so who's to say that's not going to happen now?

So really I'm actually not trying to blend these two different things, I'm really having them in their own corners creating a dialogue to make this contrast, I think has brought about a really fascinating sound. It's been a journey for me figuring out what works, I really didn't want to make something that is just going ‘look at me, I'm using the recorder’ because it's so obvious. I mean for people who play recorder and certainly within early music circles it doesn't need to be explained why we're working with this instrument.

I would rather not try and draw in an uninitiated audience by being gimmicky, I would rather just let the music speak for itself. Maybe people won't even realise I'm playing recorder, and that's fine, because in some ways that is the best result – when it's not even raised an eyebrow about an instrument which only over the last 100 years or so has gained this annoying reputation.

What advice would you have for anyone looking to play recorder with electronics?

Oh, certainly one piece of advice that I was given years ago, which has really held true within a pop music, within a music tech environment, is – learn Ableton.

Once you know Ableton, you can do a lot of things within a live context, and a lot of things that would require individual pieces of expensive equipment. If you've got a good laptop, you've got a half decent audio interface, and you've got Ableton, there is so much that you can do and really make different things happen on stage that otherwise would just be bulky and cumbersome.

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