Steve Reid made his recording debut in 1964, aged 19, playing on Martha and the Vandella's 'Dancing in the Street'. He went on to play with legendary figures in avant garde jazz such as Miles Davis, Archie Shepp, Sam Rivers and David Murray, but also in soul, such as James Brown, Dionne Warwick and Chaka Khan. In the late 60s he spent three years in west Africa, where he studied African rhythms and played with Fela Kuti.

Kieran Hebden developed Four Tet's sample-based collage of jazz, folk and soul textures in downtime between recording with Fridge, the band he started with school friends Adem Ilhan and Sam Jeffers. After Dialogue was released by Output, Kieran went on to produce Pause, Rounds and Everything Ecstatic for Domino.

The collaboration came about through a mutual friend, Antoine at Paris Jazz Corner. Kieran was keen to revisit the kind of intense dialogues to be found in 70s free jazz duos; Steve liked Four Tet and wanted to engage with modern electronic textures, something he felt had not yet been done well in jazz. The result was a show in Paris, one in London, and then straight after, The Exchange Sessions.