Kieran Hebden (born 1978), best known by the stage name Four Tet, is an English post-rock and electronic musician. Hebden first came to prominence as a member of the band Fridge before establishing himself as a solo artist.
Hebden’s music originally eschewed the traditional pop song format in favour of a more abstract approach—his sound and melodies incorporate elements of hip hop, electronica, techno, jazz, grime and folk music with live instrumentation. His newer works are inspired heavily by house music.
Hebden has also remixed tracks by artists including Aphex Twin, Explosions in the Sky, Super Furry Animals, Radiohead, Ellie Goulding, Lana Del Rey, Manic Street Preachers, Sia and Black Sabbath, and has produced two albums by psychedelic improvisational group Sunburned Hand of the Man. Hebden’s recent output includes a number of improvisational works with jazz drummer Steve Reid and collaborations with Burial and Thom Yorke.
Kieran Hebden was born in Putney, London, England, to a South African-born Indian mother and a British sociology lecturer father. He attended Elliott School in Putney, where he formed the band Fridge with classmates Adem Ilhan and Sam Jeffers. The band signed a recording contract when Hebden was 15, and released their first album, Ceefax, on Trevor Jackson’s Output Recordings label in March 1997.
Hebden’s first solo release was the 1997 single “Double Density”, released on the Output label under the artist name 4T Recordings. He began releasing material as Four Tet in 1998 with the 36 minute, 25 second single “Thirtysixtwentyfive”. Later that year, he released another single, the jazz-influenced “Misnomer”. 1999’s Dialogue, again on Output, was Four Tet’s first full-length album release and fused hip hop drum lines with dissonant jazz samples. This was followed by the double A-side single “Glasshead”/”Calamine”, which was to be Four Tet’s last release on Output.
In late 1999, Warp Records released Warp 10 + 3: Remixes, a tenth-anniversary compilation of remixes of Warp tracks. Hebden contributed a remix of the opening track of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II, which was considered to be his break-out release.
In 2001, Four Tet’s second album Pause was released on Domino Records and found Hebden using more folk and electronic samples, which was quickly dubbed “folktronica” by the media and press in an attempt to label the style (often also applied to artists such as Isan and Gravenhurst). Rounds was released in May 2003. Three singles were released from the album: “She Moves She”, “As Serious as Your Life”, and “My Angel Rocks Back and Forth”. This last single was released as an EP featuring remixes by electronica duo Icarus and Isambard Khroustaliov along with additional Four Tet tracks “I’ve Got Viking in Me” and “All the Chimers”. An accompanying DVD featured all of Four Tet’s videos to date. In addition, the closing track “Slow Jam” was featured in a U.S. Nike commercial in 2001 and 2002.
At the beginning of 2003, Four Tet opened for Radiohead on their European tour. A remix of the song “Scatterbrain” from Radiohead’s sixth studio album Hail to the Thief was released in November 2003 as a B-side to the single “2 + 2 = 5” and later included on their 2004 EP COM LAG (2plus2isfive). Furthermore, Hebden was among the people thanked by Radiohead in the booklet accompanying their 2007 In Rainbows “discbox” release.
A live album named Live in Copenhagen 30th March 2004 was released in April 2004 as a limited edition, available exclusively from the Domino Records website.
In March and April 2005, Four Tet performed two shows of improvisational music, in collaboration with jazz drummer Steve Reid, in Paris and London. He also appears on Steve Reid Ensemble 2005 album Spirit Walk. This collaboration was extended into a series of international tours, and the release of two albums, The Exchange Session Vol. 1 and The Exchange Session Vol. 2 over the course of 2005 and 2006.
His fourth studio album Everything Ecstatic was released on Domino on 23 May 2005. The video for the lead single, “Smile Around the Face”, features actor Mark Heap. On 7 November 2005, Domino released a DVD version of Everything Ecstatic featuring video clips for each track of the album plus a CD with new material, titled Everything Ecstatic Part 2, which was later made available as an individual EP.
Hebden has also remixed, under the Four Tet name, tracks by a wide range of artists including Tegan And Sara, Madvillain, Andrew Bird, Bloc Party, Super Furry Animals, Beth Orton, Badly Drawn Boy, CYNE, The Notwist, Boom Bip, Battles, Kings of Convenience, Lars Horntveth, Bonobo, Rothko, The xx, Thom Yorke and Radiohead. On 25 September 2006, Domino Records released Remixes, a two-disc compilation of Four Tet remixes. The first disc contains twelve Four Tet remixes selected by Hebden, with the second disc comprising every official remix to date (both by Hebden himself and by other artists) of Four Tet tracks, many of which had previously been available on vinyl only. A new EP, Ringer, was released on 21 April 2008.
In 2008, Hebden collaborated with composer David Arnold to write “Crawl, End Crawl”, the song used for the end credits of the film Quantum of Solace.
In 2009, Hebden worked on a secret collaboration with former schoolmate Burial. The two track 12″ was released with a plain black cover with no liner notes or details contained on the vinyl, other than the artists’ names and the track titles: “Moth” and “Wolf Cub”. The release was universally critically acclaimed.
In November 2009, details of the fifth full-length Four Tet album were released. Heavily influenced by a stint DJing at the Plastic People club in Shoreditch and entitled There Is Love in You, it was released on 25 January 2010. The album was preceded by a limited edition release of the 12″ single “Love Cry”.
In 2010, Hebden collaborated with Laurie Anderson playing keyboards on the song Only an Expert from her Homeland album.
In 2011, Hebden released a split 12″ with Burial and Thom Yorke, entitled “Ego”/”Mirror”. He began to release music under the alias Percussions, following a track he produced on his Fabriclive mix CD. He was chosen by Caribou to perform at the ATP Nightmare Before Christmas festival that they co-curated in December 2011 in Minehead, England.
In 2012 Hebden collaborated again with Burial on the track Nova.
The sixth full-length Four Tet album, Pink, consisting of eight tracks, six of them already released as singles, was released on 20 August 2012 through Hebden’s own record label, Text Records. Hebden followed up Pink with 0181 on 15 January 2013. 0181 is a collection of unreleased material from 1997-2001, collected as one track and released online. A vinyl version was also released on the Text Records label.
Hebden released the seventh Four Tet album, Beautiful Rewind, in October 2013, and his eighth album, Morning/Evening in July 2015. Under the name ‘Four Tet’ he recently released a remix of “Opus” by Eric Prydz.
Hebden undertook a monthlong residency as Four Tet for online radio station NTS_Radio in May 2014. He has since been an occasional DJ for NTS, playing in February, June and November 2015, and again in June 2016 alongside fellow DJ Floating Points.