Artist In Focus: Hagan (#SPK004)

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Based in South London, Hagan started producing about 2 years ago and has built a sound incorporating a wide range of influences. His brand of UK funky has a tribal feel with hints to an African aesthetic whilst maintaining firm roots in London, staying true to the gritty and bass heavy sounds that the city is renowned for. Having received support from the likes of Blackdown, Wen, Lil Silva and Marcus Nasty you know he is one to watch.

His first EP, ‘Deep In The Village’, reached the top 10 UK Funky/Garage tracks on Juno. Now, we have been treated to a second; entitled ‘Afrodub’ and out now on Car Crash Set. This four track EP represents a major step forward for Hagan, it sees the quality of his production step up a notch and the cohesive nature of the tracks shows an artist who is finding his true voice.

First up is the eponymous ‘Afrodub’ with its seductive female sigh and powerful driving bass. The percussion throughout is really intricate; an ideal combination of powerful kicks and interesting percussion. The track also features a distant, almost alien melody line at points which adds a lot of depth to the sound. ‘Untitled’ continues the trend of elaborate percussion with rolling snares layered over the pounding kick.

‘Sticks and Stones’ has a lengthy intro which begins to include vocal stabs in a way that maximises suspense before the drop. This one is a real groover with the vocal stabs continuing through the drop and the bongos rolling on. The EP closes with ‘Malfunktion’ which, for me, is the stand out track. The deep synth stab in the intro is so foreboding and the drop comes with a heavy, wobbling bass line which evolves throughout the track, growing in aggression.

This EP shows real promise as you can hear Hagan’s sound and production skills growing; I can’t wait to hear more from this guy.

Buy the EP here:

http://www.junodownload.com/products/hagan-afrodub/2224672-02/

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/afrodub-ep/id659038386

We also found some time to catch up with Hagan to talk to him about his music, read what he had to say below.

Spectrum: Let’s start at the beginning then, what is your first musical memory?

Hagan: My first musical memory was of my uncle who was a DJ. He used to live in the same house as me so I was always exposed to his equipment and if I was lucky, I’d get to press a few buttons haha. Whilst this was going on, I was always going to a family friend’s house to play on his keyboard since my mum hadn’t finished work straight away. I was 8 at the time and he was 9. We would both just play on the keyboard nearly every day after school until we were bored really.

Spectrum: What would you say are your main influences that have brought you from that memory to where you are today?

Hagan: I’d definitely say that my family friend and uncle helped a lot. As we grew older our musical skills were developing. I was having more of an interest in percussion due to the amount of Ghanaian music I was exposed to in my household as my uncle would always play it in the house. My friend concentrated on playing the keyboard and becoming a performing artist. Due to his drive and determination to improve, it also motivated me to improve and gain more knowledge in music.

My uncle started to teach me the basics of DJ’ing when I was 16. I had to pass my GCSE’s before he allowed me to start haha.

Also, I’d say that the church I started to attend helped me immensely. I had the opportunity to play in the Praise and Worship team with some very talented musicians. I was a percussionist playing all types of drums from the standard kit, djembes, bongos and congas every weekend.

So all of these influences started to make me think of creating a sound that I could possibly bring out myself. I started producing at the age of 16 but didn’t take it seriously until the age of 18. So before the age of 18 I just worked on developing a sound that I thought fitted my musical interests at the time. I kept all early tracks to myself as I thought they weren’t good enough to show anyone haha. This was the time when UK Funky was in the limelight so most of my tracks were influenced by that genre as well as Ghanaian music

Spectrum: I know labelling yourself is something some artists don’t want to do but how do you like to categorize your music?

Hagan: It’s very hard to say because sometimes I’ll step up to computer to make a track and one day I may feel like making something really tribal. The next day I’ll try and make something with an Afro House groove or there will be occasions where I’ll make some UK Funky/Bass tracks. I’ve even tried to make a little bit of Deep House but that’s still getting fine-tuned. So it’s hard to categorise the music I make because it depends on what I’m feeling like at the time. I’d definitely say that a “Hagan sound” is gradually becoming apparent as I continue to learn this craft which has great emphasis on all instruments working together to create a distinctive groove – that’s what I really like in musical arrangements.

Spectrum: Which came first for you, producing or djing? and which do you now prefer?

Hagan: Producing / composing came to me first as music was one of the subjects I took at GCSE and also played instruments at church. Even though I was exposed to DJ’ing quite early on due to my uncle, I focussed on producing. I started DJ’ing out at the age of 18 with two friends of mine called DJ Klipa and DJ Jinxer and since then I’ve still been trying to improve.

I personally think the feelings you get from the two are different. When it comes to producing, I like the fact the any sound can be made if you have the knowledge on how to do it. I also like the challenges that come with it – learning new production tricks and knowing that the final product was produced by you.

However when it comes to DJ’ing, I like the reactions you can receive from a crowd when you drop a nice track and when they appreciate a mix. I love the whole “live” performance feeling which is similar to when you’re playing in a band.

The ultimate sensation though is when you play out a track that you’ve produced and you get a positive reaction. That’s like the best of both worlds!

Spectrum: Favourite piece of music so far this year?

Hagan: I find it hard to think of one favourite piece of music because I go through phases. However I am happy to have found out about the Canadian producer Kaytranada (Yeah I know I’m a little late). His music is so fresh, punchy and has attitude.

I’m also feeling Lil Silva productions at the moment, especially the track “Venture”. I love where Lil Silva has taken his sound. It very distinctive and the drums in his tracks are so raw, minimal and aggressive.

I have to give a shout out to Champion as well. His basslines are heavy.

It’s too hard to pick!

Spectrum: Favourite dj set you’ve played?

Hagan: I’ve enjoyed all of the sets I’ve played. I’d say the most memorable was when I played the “Boomboomtah Remix” for the first time at my university (University of Kent). Everybody was familiar with the original but nobody was expecting a remix. The crowd just went crazy for it!

Spectrum: Thanks for your time

If you’re still unsure whether this EP is for you, Hagan has kindly provided us with a track so you can have a taster of his sound. His remix of Champion’s ‘Sensitivity’ is available for free download now via our Soundcloud, here:

Hagan;
Twitter – www.twitter.com/haganUK
Soundcloud:- www.soundcloud.com/hagan_music

Written by Andy Brennan

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