Ahead of the release of his Lockdown EP via Beat Werk, we decided to catch up with Tribal/Funky Producer/DJ Hagan. We speak about all things Raving, including the London nightlife and his utopian club night!
[Resonate Sounds] How is the Tribal scene?
[HAGAN] There’s a bubbling scene. The whole of HER records are producing underground, tribal influenced stuff. The whole scene is not even just tribal, its house, funky, rhythms from Brazil all incorporated into one. It is a certain sound which resonates with me and my sets.
[Resonate Sounds] Where is the best places to hear your type of music?
[HAGAN] The sound is not really getting promoted like that. You can find certain producers on the line up playing bits of tribal/uk funky, but not whole nights dedicated to it.
[Resonate Sounds] So why do you think London is very grime, house and techno based?
[HAGAN] The clubs are closing down. Before there was that variety. Now, all the people playing the music i make are going outside of London, places like Leeds and Brighton – mute events in Brighton is great. London is becoming a bit too…
[Resonate Sounds] Bait? ahaha
[HAGAN] Ahaha to an extent…more commercial!
[Resonate Sounds] What did you make of the funky house era
[HAGAN] I wouldn’t be here without that scene! I’m Ghanian and I use to listen to that African Highlife sound and Gospel music. I heard funky house and it was quite similar
[Resonate Sounds] You could relate to it
[HAGAN] Exactly. People like Lil Silva inspired me massively, it made me want to start producing. Seasons was my track! His tracks had groove.
[Resonate Sounds] Why do you think the scene … disappeared…or did it?
[HAGAN] I don’t think it has disappeared. There’s a small community of people still making and playing it, not even just the HER records guys. Someone like Majora is doing his thing too. Champion I respect massively. He moves with the times. That track with Four Tet, Disparate, is dangeorus! Both are incredible producers.
[Resonate Sounds] Where does Beat Werk come into all of this? What does the crew/label represent?
[HAGAN] It’s all about good music. Lenny Legaspi (Director of Beat Werk) is trying to bring out artists who make different music, those like Holloway – he does Grime influenced house stuff. You can’t really explain it , something similar to Akito but very clubby with a dark atmospheric vibe to it. With my stuff, he was attracted to that dark tribal element, something not many people are doing. Midnight from Australia is also coming through the label, another person whose sound is very difficult to describe.
We all met online. I heard of Beat Werk and was a fan of what they are doing and who they were putting on. They put on MssingNo who i think is amazing and thought I should connect with them. Lenny brought us all together and it took off from there.
[Resonate Sounds] So If I was to come to a Beat Werk night what can I expect?
[HAGAN] You would hear music you can hear nowhere else – not at other raves or on radio. There is the bass and funky side of it. You got the likes of Holloway and Akito. Lenny plays a lot of the club hip hop stuff, then you can get someone like FunkyStepz on the bill pushing their classic side. So it is very varied!
[Resonate Sounds] How has it been getting the night out there?
[HAGAN] A lot of it is the DJ’s Lenny puts on. As I said, London does not really have that funky sound anymore so when he puts these people on a lot of people want to come.
[Resonate Sounds] There are a lot of “DJs” out there rinsing a lot of bookings but not entirely mastering their own craft. Knowing this, do you still get excited playing out?
[HAGAN] Of course. The great thing as a Producer/DJ is being able to play your own records. The reaction of people loving it is exciting. I am trying to do more engaging things with my sets, make it more of a performance. I have been working with different loops and experimentations.
[Resonate Sounds] Who do you look up to DJ wise?
[HAGAN] Plastician. His range of music and selection is second to none. Plus, he is from Croydon! As a fellow croydon guy I look up to him, as well as Skream & Benga. As a Producer/DJ I look up to once again Lil Silva!
[Resonate Sounds] Let’s be honest, how important is girls to the Tribal/Funky scene. Often, guys will follow where girls are going. One of the major positives of funky was its ability to strongly cater to girls… and the guys followed!
[HAGAN] I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently! On my online page, 70% of visitors are Men. So I was thinking, how can I attract more girls!
[Resonate Sounds] Does that come into your mind when you are DJ’ing?
[HAGAN] Yeah I would be lying if I said it doesn’t. First and foremost you want to put on a good show but striking a good gender balance is key too. Plus, it makes the dance look more pleasant!
I have realised that girls like vocals, but I don’t want to be bringing in vocals all throughout my set. So, I will try to bring in some recognisable vocals here and there. I’ve been doing a couple of bootlegs for this purpose. You can get some girls who can just vibe to instrumental, which is great, but you have to cater to all types.
[Resonate Sounds] Which nights best strikes a good gender balance?
[HAGAN] Heatwave without a doubt. A club called Trapeze in shoreditch is also good at promoting. It’s small and intimate but gets the numbers.
[Resonate Sounds] If you were to do your own club night in London, how would you curate it? Let’s start with location? Croydon?
[HAGAN] No, definitely not croydon, people cannot travel to croydon. Clubs are closing there too. I would say North.
[Resonate Sounds] Why North?
[HAGAN] Well, East is …well…bait! Everyone does their thing in East. You can still get some good underground events in Dalston but I feel like it is over-saturated. Some other places in London deserve to have some good club nights and I feel it’s North’s time. East needs to let other places shine for a bit
[Resonate Sounds] What about music policy?
[HAGAN] Anything can go genre wise – as long as it as some sort of groove. In the Grime section, Plastician. Lil Silva of course, as an inspiration. Bass wise -Flava D, Barely Legal or Amy Becker. Oneman too, he is crazy! I like Jarreau Vandal, doing big things as an international artist. I am feeling the Soulection guys as well.
[Resonate Sounds] Do you feel like that Future Beats/RnB sound as longevity?
[HAGAN] Of course. They are not doing anuthing major different but doing their own samples but making it sound GOOD! It’s always fresh and doesn’t repeat anything. Sango is another guy I would bring in to my night, his Brazilian vibes in Mais Mais Mais was sick. A proper club EP.
[Resonate Sounds] How much would you charge? Would it be for free… a night for the people?
[HAGAN] It would definitely be for the people
[Resonate Sounds] Aha, you say that now…
[HAGAN] Ahaha yeah yeah. Well, I have to charge to bring these people in. As long as the night is good I think the people would be happy to pay. If it is in London £8 is a good price. If you bring the artist I think the people would want to pay for them.
[Resonate Sounds] Dress code?
[Resonate Sounds] What can we expect from you in 2016?
[HAGAN] This year I want people to see me as a recognised producer. I want to start collaborating with different people. I want to start an EP project with myself working with other producers. I have a concept to bring back party Highlife music from West Africa in combination with Bassline…I made one tune already and I am happy with that sign. It will catch on because of that old nostalgic Highlife sound with current day bass. It is just sounding mad! I am getting excited just thinking about it.
I also have three EPs ready to come out. I have a couple of South African Gqom stuff which is a vibe. I don’t want to replicate what they are doing too tough, just put my spin on it.
[Resonate Sounds] Do you think that sound can resonate here?
[HAGAN] Not sure if it can make it big but as part of underground music people will appreciate it!
The Lockdown EP is available for digital purchase from 29th January