He had been working with Tinnitus, formed by himself and Angus McNaughton in Christchurch, since the early 1980s, creating ambient experimental soundscapes. They shifted to Auckland in 1988, releasing 13 cassettes and eventually winding down around 1993.
McNaughton went on to co-found Incubator Recording Studios in Symonds St, a stone's throw from Hodgson’s inner city warehouse featuring his own studio, Pitch Black (which was later picked up as the name for his electronic dub duo with Paddy Free). The original Pitch Black studio had been his first windowless studio in Christchurch, back in 1984.
Hodgson recalls, “I had a small studio called Pitch Black. It was used by some of the Deepgrooves artists as a writing and programming studio – once the song was ready, they would take the floppy disk with the information over to Incubator to record and finish the actual song. As different songs were made I had the option of taking the ones I liked and doing remixes of them.” This became the source material for Projector Mix.
He began creating live video mixes and visuals for bands, under the name Projector Mix.
His recording studio setup consisted of an Atari computer, an 8-track reel to reel, a mixing desk, a Roland DEP5 effects processor, an Akai keyboard sampler which was later upgraded to an Akai S1000 sampler in 1992, an Alesis D4 drum module, and various effects machines.
Hodgson describes himself as, “Not so much of a instrument-playing musician. I would ask artists whose style I liked to come into the studio to lay musical elements down on tracks I was working on.”
He describes his audio influences as, “On U Sound artists, especially the weirder sound stuff. Tackhead, Dub Syndicate, Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Coil, The Anti Group, 23 Skidoo. My style was very informed by the more electronic side of On U Sound, plus my interest in art noise and other electronic acts, not so much by dance music.”
He began creating live video mixes and visuals for bands, under the name Projector Mix. Hodgson says the moniker came about when he was asked by JPSE to create some video for a live show. “They needed a name – I just said The Projector Mix and it stuck. I toured around NZ with them mixing live video off a couple of VHS decks and a MX10 Panasonic video mixer.
“I had always created video shows to all my live events. Once I moved to Auckland and was around people putting on dance parties, I was asked create visuals for those events. I played at the first Brain [dance] party and I met Ross George there, who helped me develop Mideo, a bit of software that let me trigger bits of video using midi notes.
“I then worked on a number of dance parties, live events, as well as my own live shows with people playing on stage behind a video screen with my visuals on top, and with me live dub mixing [the sound] from the front of house.
“Video has always been part of my performance life, though the work with other bands started after I had had enough of trying to play my music from the FOH mixing desk [with] a video screen onstage.
“People would not treat it as an act as no one was onstage, so I stopped doing the live AV thing and started focusing on doing video for acts who actually played onstage, and early dance parties, gigs supported at the Blue Tile Lounge with the Stylee Crew [Stinky Jim, Dubhead, Slowdeck, Roger Perry, DLT et al]. I worked with acts like Headless Chickens, NRA, JPSE, and any acts playing at the various Deepgrooves gigs.
“By the time The Projector Mix project started, I had an Amiga audio visual computer setup and some low bit samplers, this was locked to an 8-track reel to reel so there was a clock speed that I was able to work to.
“I mainly started with a riff or rhythm, locking in a tempo then setting up the studio dub structure, leaving sends [on the mixing desk] open so the dub process totally informed the tunes ... then adding elements to this to build up a song, getting people in to play to the tracks.”
If you’ve ever seen Pitch Black live, Paddy Free is playing the keyboards, and Mike is playing the mixing desk. This approach, of treating the mixing desk as an instrument, is firmly rooted in Jamaican dub traditions.
Hodgson’s first musical release post-Tinnitus was a musical collaboration with DLT, following on from remix work he’d done with DLT’s previous group, Upper Hutt Posse. This collaboration appeared on the first Deepgrooves compilation in late 1991. Hodgson had been doing live visuals for some of the Deepgrooves acts, and hooked up with the label.
The first, self-titled Projector Mix album came out in 1992, and featured members of Hallelujah Picassos, NRA, and Salmonella Dub.
“As I moved on from the Tinnitus project and was developing my own electronic dub style, I had a number of songs completed. I worked on a track with DLT for the first Deepgrooves compilation, so I’d met those guys, they were looking for artist’s albums and I had a whole record ready to go, so they offered to put it out.”
The first, self-titled The Projector Mix album came out in 1992, and featured members of Hallelujah Picassos, NRA, and Salmonella Dub.
He followed that up in 1993 with A Wander Thru The Transition Zone, a self-released cassette-only album. It featured collaborations with DLT, Gerard Tahu, Rex Vizible, Matthias Sutholder (The New Loungehead), Nemesis Dub Systems (Joost Langeveld and Eddie Chambers), and members of Hallelujah Picassos.
Following these audio releases, he continued developing his live video work over the next few years, becoming an in-demand visuals guy, eventually leading to the formation of Pitch Black, his musical collaboration with Paddy Free, who made their live debut at dance party The Gathering on New Year’s Eve, 1997.
Pitch Black released several albums on Kog Transmissions and toured internationally for much of the 2000s, before Hodgson relocated to London with his family and Pitch Black went on temporary hiatus.
He has recently been digitising and remastering both Projector Mix albums for upcoming digital reissue, and in mid 2014 he released a new album, Tickling The Dragon's Tail, under his current solo moniker, Misled Convoy.